Arizona Premiere!


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Post-film Q&A with Oscar-nominated director Kirby Dick in person and director Kirsten Johnson via Skype | 8 Awards, including Best Documentary Feature, Traverse City & San Francisco Film Fests

The Kirby Dick Social Justice Award, named after the Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker, is presented each year at The Loft Film Fest to a filmmaker whose work displays a galvanizing passion for social change through cinema.   This year, The Loft Film Fest is proud to present the 2016 Kirby Dick Social Justice Award to acclaimed cinematographer, filmmaker and human rights activist Kirsten Johnson, director of Cameraperson!

A boxing match in Brooklyn; life in postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina; the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife; an intimate family moment at home: these scenes and others are woven into Cameraperson, a tapestry of footage captured over the twenty-five-year career of documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson.

“One of the most original, challenging and sometimes infuriating documentaries of recent times.” – Matt Zoller Seitz,

Through a series of episodic juxtapositions, Johnson explores the relationships between image makers and their subjects, the tension between the objectivity and intervention of the camera, and the complex interaction of unfiltered reality and crafted narrative. A work that combines documentary, autobiography, and ethical inquiry, Cameraperson is both a moving glimpse into one filmmaker’s personal journey and a thoughtful examination of what it means to train a camera on the world. (Dir. by Kirsten Johnson, 2016, USA, 102 mins., Not Rated) Previous Fests: Sundance Film Festival

Thanks to our community partners Film Fatales and WOSAC!

kjKirsten Johnson has worked as both documentary cinematographer and director committing herself to human rights issues and visual creativity. She is the principal cinematographer on over 40 feature-length documentaries and has been credited on countless others.
After graduating from Brown University in 1987 with a BA in Fine Arts and Literature she travelled to Senegal to study with acclaimed filmmakers Djibril Diop Mambety and Ousmane Sembene. The experience inspired her to apply to the French National Film School (La Femis), where she began to study cinematography. While in La Femis she began to shoot the documentary Derrida, with directors Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick the earliest of Johnson’s work to appear in Cameraperson.
After graduating from La Femis she went on to shoot a number of highly-acclaimed and award-winning documentaries including Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Fahrenheit 9/11,  This Film is Not Yet Rated and The Invisible War.  
She has a longstanding collaboration with Oscar-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras, credited as cinematographer for The Oath, Citizenfour, the upcoming Asylum. Additionally, she shot footage that appeared in Poitras’ visual exhibition on surveillance, which opened at the Whitney Museum in spring 2016.
In 2009 Johnson embarked on a directorial project documenting the lives of two teenagers in Afghanistan, the film was to be called A Blind Eye. After 3 years of shooting and cutting one of the teenagers retracted her permission to be featured and the film’s scope was reconsidered and structured around the footage that was shot, as well as footage from over 30 films Johnson had worked on over the years. Eventually this was edited into the film that became Cameraperson.
When not shooting she teaches the class in “Visual Thinking” at the NYU Graduate Journalism Department, a course in cinematography at SVA, and often leads workshops for young camerapeople and documentarians under the auspices of the Arab Art and Culture Fund in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.

kdKirby Dick, a Tucson native, is a two time Emmy-award winning and two-time Academy award-nominated documentary film director. His most recent film, The Hunting Ground (2015), a monumental exposé about sexual assault on college campuses, premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, was released by Radius/The Weinstein Company and CNN, is the 2016 recipient of the Producer Guild of America’s Stanley Kramer award, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. His previous film, The Invisible War (2012), a groundbreaking investigation into the epidemic of rape within the US military, won two Emmy Awards for Best Documentary and Outstanding Investigative Journalism, the 2012 Independent Spirit Award 2012 for Best Documentary, a Peabody Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He also directed Twist of Faith (2004), the story of a man confronting the trauma of his past sexual abuse by a Catholic priest, which was also nominated for an Academy Award. Other films include Outrage (2009), nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism, This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006), a breakthrough investigation of the MPAA’s secretive film ratings system, and Derrida (2002), a complex portrait of the world-renowned French philosopher Jacques Derrida. He is the 2012 recipient of the Nestor Almendros Prize for Courage and Filmmaking and the 2013 Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize.