After her acclaimed directorial debut Cameraperson, Kirsten Johnson turned to her family once again for her follow-up. Dick Johnson Is Dead follows her relationship with her father and takes a humorous, touching look at life and death in surprising ways. After winning the Special Jury Award for Innovation in Non-fiction Storytelling at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Netflix will now release the film next month. Ahead of the debut, the first trailer and poster have now arrived.
I said in my Sundance review, “There’s only one universal truth shared amongst all humans: one day, we will die. For some, this cold, uncomforting reality can lead to paralyzing anxiety as we think of who and what we’ll leave behind. For others, it’s a call to action to live every day with receptive empathy towards others and a curiosity to explore what the world has to offer. As already proven in her masterful directorial debut Cameraperson, Kirsten Johnson clearly falls into the latter category. With her brilliant follow-up Dick Johnson Is Dead, leave it to the director to create an exploration of death that is fun, bittersweet, and bursting with colorful imagination. In her portrait of her (spoiler warning!) still-alive father, she carries the same self-reflexive wit and vision as her prior film but takes it in a whole other direction.”
See the trailer and poster below.
A lifetime of making documentaries has convinced award-winning filmmaker Kirsten Johnson of the power of the real. But now she’s ready to use every escapist movie-making trick in the book – staging inventive and fantastical ways for her 86-year-old psychiatrist father to die while hoping that cinema might help her bend time, laugh at pain and keep her father alive forever. The darkly funny and wildly imaginative DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD is a love letter from a daughter to a father, creatively blending fact and fiction to create a celebratory exploration of how movies give us the tools to grapple with life’s profundity.
Dick Johnson Is Dead arrives on Netflix on October 2.