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Interview: Filmmaker Kirsten Johnson on her Deeply Personal Documentary ‘Dick Johnson is Dead’ and How We Want to Die


For some reason, whenever I interact with Kirsten Johnson, it’s in the aftermath of a tumultuous election. Four years ago, I met her at an event for her prior documentary Cameraperson, one moderated by Michael Moore and held the day after the 2016 Presidential Election. Yeah. Fast forward to 2020 and we got on the phone to chat the day before Joe Biden was declared the winner of this election. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but as I mention in the interview, I can only imagine what 2024 will bring. This year did see the release of the beloved film Dick Johnson is Dead, however, so this may be hard to top for her. Johnson just won Best Director earlier this week at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards for Dick Johnson is Dead. The doc also took the top prize at the show, and rightly so. Our discussion came before that, but the more time passes, the more likely it is that she seems poised to score an Academy Award nomination.

Below is my interview with Johnson, which I think is a really good one, if I do say so myself. As much as Dick Johnson is Dead contains heavy material, it’s also quite funny, so it should come as no surprise that she and I laughed a lot during our chat. Besides talking about her movie, as well as her father, we ended up discussing my late grandfather, which was an unexpected touch. Moreover, as recently teased on the Awards Radar Podcast (here), she asked me how I’d ideally like to die. Those curious about my answer should definitely listen, and feel free to let us know your ideal way to go in the comments…

Enjoy my conversation with Kirsten Johnson. Dick Johnson is Dead is now streaming on Netflix, so be sure to check it out after you give our chat a listen!


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Written by Joey Magidson

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