Majlinda Hoxha / Janus Films

The cinematographer becomes the director in Kirsten Johnson's empathetic, collage-style documentary about her 25-year career behind the camera. She builds the audiovisual memoir around outtakes from films on which she contributed, which means that she's sharing her process as much as her work. She pulls weeds to get a better ground-level shot in Bosnia, wipes dust from her camera in Yemen, and switches focus from a dancer in Uganda to the attention-seeker pulling crazy faces behind him.

With the exception of those who requested anonymity, she identifies speakers and locations, but not the actual films, though you may recognize some, like Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and Laura Poitras's Oscar-winning Citizenfour. Fortunately, all 24 are listed in the end credits. She also inserts footage of her toddler twins, Felix and Viva, and her parents, Catherine and Rod, who become part of the tapestry. While the children grow older, Catherine, who has Alzheimer's, grows blurrier as her memory fades. (Not mentioned in the film: Johnson co-parents her children with filmmaker Ira Sachs and his partner, painter Boris Torres.)


Lynsey Addario / Janus Films

By drawing no distinction between her personal and professional lives, Johnson suggests that she values her work as much as her family. As she notes at the outset, "These are images that have marked me." By finding the common ground between them, she joins the ranks of master cinematic diarists like Agn├Ęs Varda and the late Chantal Akerman. recommended