Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: Cameraperson

Kristen Johnson has been a documentary cameraperson for over 25 years. The award-winning cinematographer is today considered one of the best in her field and has helped create some incredible works of cinema. Happy Valley, The Invisible War, Fahrenheit 9/11, The Oath and Citizenfour, to name a few. However, the work has begun to take a toll on her. Her new film, Cameraperson, is in a way a means of making sense of her thoughts and feelings about her craft.

As a cameraperson, Kristen Johnson play a vital role in the production of a film without having any control over what is done with her footage. She shares a relationship with those she films without having a relationship with them. Cameraperson is a fragmentary portrait of her work compiled using exerts from different shoots. These are edited together in a very loose thread showing the highs and lows of her profession and the impact of this work on those in front and behind the camera.

Cameraperson is a memoir of Kristen’s life and work. As well as documenting the subjects of her lens it also show the bits we never see. Using footage that was shot but never used, she gives a unique insight into the profession. It also gives us an insight into her personal life (the scenes with her mother are particularly powerful). Cameraperson is an incredibly insightful and singular film made by someone who obviously has a deep humanity, documenting the relationship between those on different sides of the camera.

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