ACMI and AIDC present
Dick Johnson is Dead
Featuring an interview with director Kirsten Johnson
With boundless creativity, humour and warmth, award-winning filmmaker Kirsten Johnson tackles one of our most human of dilemmas; the inevitability of losing the ones we love.
Kirsten Johnson's monument to familial love and the artistry of cinema is one of the best films of the year.
Stick around after the screening for a prerecorded interview with Kirsten Johnson.
About halfway through Dick Johnson is Dead, Kirsten Johnson's father asks her why she chose to make documentaries rather than pursue the ‘lucrative’ side of the business in Hollywood. Without missing a beat, she replies "real life is often much more fascinating than what you can make up".
As a cinematographer, Kirsten Johnson’s photography has shaped some of the most awarded American documentaries of recent memory, including Fahrenheit 9/11, The Invisible War and Citizenfour. Her directorial debut, Cameraperson (2016) examined this life behind the camera and the thorny relationship between image-makers, subjects and the audience. It was also a film that introduced us to Johnson’s family; in particular, her mother and their relationship which was strengthened and equally fragmented by her descent into dementia.
The title of her new film refers to her charming and jovial father, Dick Johnson – the Dead part; well, that’s because she spends the whole film literally trying to kill him – who plays along with a series of ever increasingly funny and gruesome demises, all acted out with by body doubles, stunt men and lots of fake blood.
But all this joking serves to examine the deeper and more pressing issue of how we come to terms with the inevitable. Now in his mid-80’s, Dick is getting old but more unnerving for them both, his memory is starting to fade. This all sounds rather morbid but it’s not; father and daughter approach this creative and emotional undertaking with humour, warmth and huge amounts of filmic invention.
Universally praised following its 2020 Sundance Film Festival Premiere, this humane and utterly original film confirms Kirsten Johnson as one of contemporary cinema's most essential voices.
– Kristy Matheson, Director of Film Programs
READ: ‘Dick Johnson Is Dead’ Director Kirsten Johnson Injected the Unimaginable into Reality
Carlos Aguilar, Indiewire, Oct 2020
LISTEN: Filmmaker Faces Her Father's Mortality By Staging His 'Death' Again And Again
Sam Briger, NPR, Sep 2020
READ: 'I want to break cinema': is Dick Johnson Is Dead the most radical film of 2020?
Charles Bramesco, The Guardian, Sep 2020