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Inventive, intimate documentary 'Cameraperson' to debut on POV
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"Cameraperson" reveals life behind the lens.
Lynsey Addario / Janus Films

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

Kristen Johnson has captured images for several acclaimed documentaries. She turns her insightful eye on herself in the intimate documentary Cameraperson.

The film, which made the shortlist for a nomination for the 2016 Academy Awards, will premiere at 9 p.m. Monday on POV on Panhandle PBS. 

Johnson culled footage for the documentary from stories she shot all over the world for such films as Fahrenheit 9/11Darfur Now and Citizenfour. But it's not a greatest-hits montage: Johnson describes Cameraperson in its opening scene as "my memoir."

"In making Cameraperson, we decided to rely as much as possible on the evidence of my experience in the footage I shot in the moment," Johnson said in a news release. "We know that this fragmentary portrait is incomplete and are interested in the way it points to how stories are constructed.

"Our hope is to convey the immediacy of finding oneself in new territory with a camera, as well as giving the audience a sense of how the accumulation of joys and dilemmas that a cameraperson must juggle builds over time," she continued. "The film itself is an acknowledgement of how complex it is to film and be filmed."

The tapestry of images includes a boxing match in Brooklyn, life in postwar Bosnia, the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife and an intimate family moment at home

Critics found the film to be especially perceptive.

"Cameraperson draws our attention not just to what we’re seeing, but to how we’re seeing it," wrote The Village Voice's Bilge Ebiri. "It encourages us to wonder how a camera operator negotiates personal space in tense, intimate, emotionally fraught situations. How far or how close should cameras press in toward people recalling the worst things that ever happened to them? Should a camera even be there? And at what point — if ever — should a documentarian intervene in a subject’s life?"




Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and on Facebook.