Finding a Person and Losing a Person: On Cameraperson

Kirsten Johnson in Interview with Alex Lichtenfels


  • Kirsten Johnson
  • Alex Lichtenfels University of Salford


Alex Lichtenfels interviewed Kirsten Johnson on September 13, 2018, via Skype. Kirsten Johnson is a cinematographer/filmmaker who has worked extensively on documentaries in many places around the world. This interview focuses on her recent film Cameraperson (2016). Cameraperson premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2016, was short-listed for an Academy Award, won the National Board of Review Freedom of Expression prize, and was awarded three 2017 Cinema Eye Honors, including Outstanding Nonfiction Feature. Cameraperson was named one of the “Top Ten Films of 2016” by the Washington Post and the New York Times and was the Grand Jury Prize Winner of 9 international festivals.

Author Biographies

Kirsten Johnson

Kirsten Johnson is a filmmaker and cinematographer interested in addressing the changing dimensions and urgent ethical challenges of documentary camerawork. Her short film, The Above which premiered at the 2015 New York Film Festival, was nominated for the IDA Best Short of 2016. Kirsten’s camerawork has appeared in the Academy Award-winning Citizenfour, Academy Award-nominated The Invisible War, Tribeca Documentary winner, Pray The Devil Back To Hell, Cannes winner Farenheit 9/11, and Emmy Award-winning Ladies First. She shared the Sundance 2010 Cinematography Award with Laura Poitras for their work on The Oath. She and Katy Chevigny co-directed Berlin Premiere Deadline, which won the Thurgood Marshall Award. She teaches a course in “Visual Thinking” at the NYU Graduate Journalism Department and has worked with young camera people throughout the MENA Region in collaboration with the Arab Art and Culture Fund. She has recently made three documentaries, A Thousand Mothers (2017), A Thousand Thoughts (2018), and and one about her father, Dick Johnson is Dead (2020), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2020, and won the Innovation in Non-Fiction Storytelling Award.

Alex Lichtenfels, University of Salford

Alex Lichtenfels is a filmmaker and theorist who is a senior lecturer in film production at the University of Salford. He has several years’ experience in the film and television industries, working primarily as a freelance producer and director in corporate and advertising venues. He is also an independent filmmaker with the Primary Films collaborative, producing or directing numerous short films as well as several longer projects. Through his work, he investigates emerging filmmaking practices, driven by research into technological changes and how methods used in other artforms might be applied to filmmaking. He is concerned with how these practices might allow for new types of films that engage audiences in nonstandard ways. He is currently pursuing research projects on remodelling the organization of film production based on anarchist political principles, and the links between film and antihumanist ethics.






Devised Filmmaking Practices