Kirsten Johnson, who made 2016's extraordinary Cameraperson, is back with a shockingly funny, intimate, and devastating portrait of her father, Dick, who over the course of the last few years of his life has fallen further into the depths of dementia. Equal parts personal documentary and fantastical metafiction, the film, which won the US Documentary Special Jury Award for Innovation in Nonfiction Storytelling at Sundance, follows Kirsten's experimental efforts to "kill" her father onscreen in variously appalling scenarios: He's struck by an air conditioner; he's thwacked with a piece of construction detritus on the streets of New York; he simply crumbles and falls on the sidewalk one day. And then he magically comes back to life.
The project is Kirsten's way of reckoning with the fact that someday, her father will die — and so will she, and so will everyone she loves. So will all of us.
Dick is a particularly special man — warm and charming, silly and kind — who, out of pure love and adoration for his daughter, throws himself willingly into a very public exploration of his own mortality. The relationship between them, rendered beautifully in this boundary-pushing film, had me weeping, smiling, and laughing long after I'd left the theater. —Shannon Keating
Distribution: Dick Johnson Is Dead will be streaming on Netflix sometime later this year.