'She kills me over and over!' Father allows his filmmaker daughter to stage his death multiple times in new documentary so she can process her grief after his dementia diagnosis

 A father has allowed his filmmaker daughter to stage his death multiple times in a new documentary to process her grief after his terrible diagnosis.

The movie Dick Johnson Is Dead features director Kirsten Johnson staging fake versions of the titular character's demise again and again.  

Different scenarios surrounding his death include being hit by a falling air conditioner, falling down a flight of stairs, being hit by a bus, tripping on the sidewalk and hitting his head and being accidentally smacked in the neck with a post by a construction worker. 

Johnson says she is trying to cope with the fact that her father has been diagnosed with dementia, which also claimed her mother, and that he is showing signs his cognitive health is in decline. 

In a new documentary, a father has allowed his filmmaker daughter to stage his death multiple times to process her grief after his terrible diagnosis. Pictured: A still from the film Dick Johnson Is Dead in which the titular character dies from a falling air conditioner

In a new documentary, a father has allowed his filmmaker daughter to stage his death multiple times to process her grief after his terrible diagnosis. Pictured: A still from the film Dick Johnson Is Dead in which the titular character dies from a falling air conditioner

Different scenarios surrounding his death include being hit by a falling air conditioner, falling down a flight of stairs and being hit by a bus. Pictured: A still from the film Dick Johnson Is Dead in which the titular character dies from a fall down a flight of stairs

Different scenarios surrounding his death include being hit by a falling air conditioner, falling down a flight of stairs and being hit by a bus. Pictured: A still from the film Dick Johnson Is Dead in which the titular character dies from a fall down a flight of stairs 

Richard 'Dick' Johnson, a retired psychologist from Washington state, was diagnosed with dementia in 2016. Pictured: Dick (left) and Kirsten  Johnson (right) pose for a portrait at the Pizza Hut Lounge in Park City, Utah, January 2020

Richard 'Dick' Johnson, a retired psychologist from Washington state, was diagnosed with dementia in 2016. Pictured: Dick (left) and Kirsten  Johnson (right) pose for a portrait at the Pizza Hut Lounge in Park City, Utah, January 2020

Woman stages her father's death multiple times in Netflix doc
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Richard 'Dick' Johnson, a psychologist from Washington state, began showing signs of the age-related brain disease late in his career.

He was double-booking patients, making mistakes on prescriptions and, once, drove home on four flat tires. 

In 2016, he was finally diagnosed with dementia. 

Dementia covers a wide ranges of diseases that affect loss of memory, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that interfere with daily life.

According to the World Health Organization, around 50 million people around the world live with dementia and a new case is diagnosed every three seconds.


After the diagnosis, Johnson approached her father about staging his death over and over again to help process his grief and their own relationship.

'I think that fear is dangerous to all of our health,' she told The Daily Beast

'I think that that fear and denial shut us off from other people. It's a healthy risk assessment. But not speaking about certain things always feels easier, I think, than it actually is. It takes a toll in many forms.'  

However, the documentary is not simply hilarious ways Johnson could die in the slapstick-comedy style of The Three Stooges and Charlie Chaplin shorts.  

There is also a staged funeral in which to mourn his death and a scene in which Dick is in heaven, eating cake and dancing with a cardboard cutout of his late wife.

His daughter, Kirsten, a filmmaker, approached her father with the idea of staging his death over over again. Pictured: Dick on the set of the film during the scene in which he is in heaven

His daughter, Kirsten, a filmmaker, approached her father with the idea of staging his death over over again. Pictured: Dick on the set of the film during the scene in which he is in heaven

The film, Dick Johnson Is Dead, premiered at the Sundance Festival in January to praise with critics. Pictured: Johnson (in orange) directing on the set of the film

The film, Dick Johnson Is Dead, premiered at the Sundance Festival in January to praise with critics. Pictured: Johnson (in orange) directing on the set of the film

It won the Special Jury Award for Innovation in Nonfiction Storytelling and premiered on Netflix on Friday. Pictured: Pictured: A still from the film Dick Johnson Is Dead in which the titular character dies from being hit by a bus

It won the Special Jury Award for Innovation in Nonfiction Storytelling and premiered on Netflix on Friday. Pictured: Pictured: A still from the film Dick Johnson Is Dead in which the titular character dies from being hit by a bus

The film also chronicles deep father-daughter conversations about his battle with dementia and inevitable death. 

Dick Johnson Is Dead premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was praised by critics.

It even won the Special Jury Award for Innovation in Nonfiction Storytelling.

'At Sundance there was a moment that I came outside and there was a line of women waiting to hug him,' Johnson told The Daily Beast.

'He said to me: "I don't know how this happened but I really am enjoying it."'

Signs of Dick's dementia diagnosis appeared before his retirement including double-booking patients, making mistakes on prescriptions and, once, driving home on four flat tires. Pictured: Dick at the door of his now retired practice

Signs of Dick's dementia diagnosis appeared before his retirement including double-booking patients, making mistakes on prescriptions and, once, driving home on four flat tires. Pictured: Dick at the door of his now retired practice

Johnson said her film presents viewers with the paradox of what it is like to mourn her father, even though he is still alive. Pictured: Dick in a still from the film

Johnson said her film presents viewers with the paradox of what it is like to mourn her father, even though he is still alive. Pictured: Dick in a still from the film

Johnson said her father enjoyed the attention he received from the Sundance premiere, but sometimes signs of his dementia show. 

He would forget what he was doing or why he was there, and Johnson decided to move him into a full-timer residential facility for dementia patients 

She says that sometimes her father participates with press surrounding the film if he feels well enough and sometimes does not.   

Johnson told The Daily Beast that the relationship with her father has opened up 'new ways' to know her father and a  new dimension to her relationship with him. 

'The film takes you to such places that you experience my dad's death,' she said. 

'You experience his funeral. So you forget that you know [he's still alive]. I'm hoping that the film opens up this place of not knowing and really questioning our literalness, our binariness, around life and death.'  

'She kills me over and over!' Father allows his filmmaker daughter to stage his death multiple times in new documentary so she can process her grief after his dementia diagnosis 'She kills me over and over!' Father allows his filmmaker daughter to stage his death multiple times in new documentary so she can process her grief after his dementia diagnosis Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 03:57 Rating: 5

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