Paul Malikkal

Review

Cameraperson (2016)

Paul Malikkal

A few days ago, a friend was showing me what kind of videos he watches on Youtube. He made a comment about what a personal experience showing people what you watch on Youtube is because it's letting them into your inner world. He thought of it as showing someone an esoteric piece of content that you personally discovered, rather than something widely known and liked. He claimed it revealed more about one's personality than sharing a favorite movie or song with someone else could. Imagine this same concept, but rather than showing someone something you stumbled upon on the internet, you're showing them a piece of footage you discovered and shot, that's made a profound impression on you, due to the power of the image itself, due to your relationship to the image that was formed the day you shot it, or due to the relationship you've formed with the image since then. This is essentially the essence of Kirsten Johnson's Cameraperson, which boldly redefines the phrase "personal filmmaking".

Cameraperson grips you early on. You're absolutely enthralled by the power of the images onscreen. But as the film wears on, the images produce fewer and fewer emotional responses. They decrease in universal resonance because they are growing in personal resonance to Johnson.As anyone who's ever forced a friend to listen to their favorite song knows, one thing can elicit two completely different emotional responses from two different people. What draws us to the thing isn't rooted solely in the thing itself. Our relationship to it is informed by what we've projected onto it, how we've connected it to our own experiences, and the context in which we discovered it. The more personal something is to us, the more alienating it will be to others.

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