Death is frequently abrupt, and very few of us are given warning of a loved one’s impending demise. Armed with the knowledge that her 86-year-old father is nearing the end of his life, documentarian Kirsten Johnson uses the tricks and tools of her medium to create inventive scenarios in which her dad might die. The end result is Dick Johnson Is Dead, a cathartic documentary that premieres October 2 on Netflix:
As you can see in the trailer above, Johnson combines whimsical elements with humor to reckon with her father’s inevitable demise, but there’s also quite a bit of poignancy—particularly in a heart-rending moment where Johnson’s camera follows her dad as he wanders to a subway in the middle of the night; he has no recollection of the event the following day. Here’s the official synopsis for Dick Johnson Is Dead:
A lifetime of making documentaries has convinced award-winning filmmaker Kirsten Johnson of the power of the real. But now she’s ready to use every escapist movie-making trick in the book - staging inventive and fantastical ways for her 86-year-old psychiatrist father to die while hoping that cinema might help her bend time, laugh at pain and keep her father alive forever. The darkly funny and wildly imaginative DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD is a love letter from a daughter to a father, creatively blending fact and fiction to create a celebratory exploration of how movies give us the tools to grapple with life’s profundity. DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD was filmed, produced and directed by Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson), produced by Katy Chevigny and Marilyn Ness, co-produced by Maureen A. Ryan and executive produced by Megan Ellison.