Kirsten Johnson, DAD, New York discussed on Fresh Air

Fresh Air


Seen from Dick Johnson's. Filmmaker Kirsten Johnson is our guest. Kristen that's. That seems really tears me up when I watched it, and the thing that the listeners not seeing as your data's literally putting a good face to this situation like he keeps kind of smiling he's he's Really. Trying to. You know accept the situation, but it's really for him and I love what you're doing there like you're. You're really trying to soften the blow. You know you're like, well, we're just not going to. Pay for the car like we're moving to New York. You don't use cars in New York you know like and you do that a lot. It's just It's just a really sweet way. To handle this. Really. Hard situation. I think. One of the people working on the film was saying to me. You're not from the Mid West you to like just try like I've just always trying to make each other feel better about all this, and that is certainly true i. think because we went through it with my mom, we both know what's coming. So it's so brutal. What's coming that? We? Both I think would be like we're not there yet. It's not that bad you know, and of course, I'm trial tactics like my dad. Notoriously does not want to spend. Large amounts of money for things. So I was just like It's two thousand dollars to have a parking garage in New York you like he's like, Oh, in that case, we don't the car there you know so so I. Do try all kinds of tactics and yet you know I have a dear friend Karel de Singer whose mother had dementia and she said to me when my mom started to get it, she said, you know some of these decisions you make too early or you make them too late and that's how she got me to take my mom's driver's license away from. Her because I was like, all right. My mom could run someone over but then my mother never forgave us for taking away the driver's license. She was so mad about that all the way like after she'd forgotten everything she was still mad about that. So it was really scared to get my dad to stop driving I. Didn't know how going to do it. Something I was wondering. About, their reaction to things like. Have you thought about the ways that your mother and your father reacted to these similar illnesses like I don't know if your dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or is it just dementia? Have you thought about the different ways? that. This either altered their personality or just the way they reacted to have to losing their memory and. yeah I mean I think about it all the time. I've started thinking about what part of Dad's dementia is connected to the specificity of his personality. You know he's just like extraordinarily listener. Able in the first few moments with that I done person that we see in the film Mike he he gets right at The question between. Why are some people you know risking their lives on behalf of movies and is there despair our their thoughts of suicide? Is there alcoholism you know he just gets right in there with the media? and that's the kind of thing that my father could do, and so that kind of incisiveness about his own dementia has just been remarkable and so the way he sort of flips on a dime and is thinking about himself in that scene with the car, but then he's also. Saying to me. I'm sorry for you that you have to go through this moment of taking away my independence, right? which he does often. So do you see like an erasure of Your Dad's personality or do you see it like as crystallization of him like how do you come to understand what the syllabus was doing to him? It's ten. So many things to him I mean he is distilled to his essence. Which I would say you know he can call me multiple times in a day and simply say to me I'm just checking to see if you know that I love you. And that is who he has been. My entire life right just affirming that. All of these words are applicable I do think the loss of his capacity to have an extended conversation an analytic conversation. It's a profound loss for him and for me I mean my biggest conundrums, the most challenging problems for me I could go to my dad had just say like I wanna lay this out for you. And I don't understand why I'm behaving in this way I don't understand what's happening and he he could just. Break it apart and ask questions never never judge never give me even advice just ask questions that then allowed me to think okay I see what's going on here. And so that I have definitely lost and he is definitely lost. But every once in a while I can see like come in with like A. He'll just go deep analytic and be right in there for the length of that question. Can Get it. You know. So in some ways, it's top mean new ways to think and talk and interact with him. If you're just joining us, I'm speaking with Kirsten Johnson whose newest film Dick Johnson is dead comes out on Friday on net flicks. It's a loving tribute to her dad who's actually still alive but who's dealing with dementia? Johnson's been cinematographer for over fifty documentaries more after break. This is fresh air. This message comes from NPR sponsor. Hammock. Schlemmer helping define modern living for a hundred and seventy two years. They were the first to offer revolutionary items that became common household necessities such as the pop up toaster today. Their lineup includes an air purifier that uses natural convection to draw airborne impurities into its ceramic heating chamber, and then releases clean air into the room find this and other items at Hammock Dot com use code NPR twenty to receive twenty dollars off your order. This is fresh air I'm Sam Brugere sitting in for Terry Gross back with our guest, Kirsten Johnson, who is both the documentary cinematographer and filmmaker. Her newest film Dick Johnson is dead. We'll be available on Netflix this Friday. It's about her father who's actually still alive but whom she kills off various accidents during the course of the movie to help process would be like when he actually dies. It also deals with his increasing dimension in his move from Seattle to Johnson's apartment in new. York. Johnson's previous film was camera person. I'd like to talk to you a little bit about camera person your film from two. Thousand Sixteen. And you've you call this film a memoir. Could you describe it as this all footage of things that didn't make it into the movies that you a cinematographer for Not exactly I so camera person for me was a process which came out of. worked as a Mataka for for about twenty five years at that point and had been in just some extraordinary places in the world with people who had lived through mostly who had lived through Powerful Times, I've filmed in the regions of five different genocides, and. I. Hit this point where I think I was just saturated with This sort of human experience by proxy and I.

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