Feature Documentary, 'Dick Johnson is Dead,' produced by Columbia Filmmakers to Premiere on Netflix

BY Cody Beltis , September 22, 2020

Still from Dick Johnson is Dead, image courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Feature Documentary, Dick Johnson is Dead, co-produced by Associate Professor and Chair of the Creative Producing Concentration, Maureen A. Ryan, and Adjunct Assistant Professor Marilyn Ness, assistant directed by alumnus Michael Toscano ’12, and with alumnus John Wakayama Carey ’14, as Director of Photography, and production managed by Adjunct Assistant Professor Sarah Seulki Oh, will have its premiere on Netflix on October 2, 2020. 


Several other Columbia alumni and one student worked on the film including Joshua Ryan Troxler ’18, Production Coordinator, Mahak Jiwani ’18, Production Coordinator, Kristy Richman ’19, Production Coordinator/Extras Casting, Markus Kirschner ’09, Production, Federica Gianni ’17, Media Manager, Ewing Luo ’18, Production, Frank Liu ’19, Production Assistant, student Alex Yarber, Production Assistant, Jaclyn Noel ’19, Production Assistant, and Christina Wood ’19, Production Assistant. 


From award-winning documentary director Kirsten Johnson, Dick Johnson is Dead is about staging clever ways for her 86-year-old psychiatrist father to die, as he falls ill with dementia, while hoping that the magic of cinema might help her turn back time, laugh at pain and keep her father alive forever. The darkly sardonic and whimsically imaginative story is a clandestine love letter from a daughter to a father, which toggles between fact and fiction to create a festive exploration of how film gives us the artistic tools to cope with life’s obstacles.


At this years’ 2020 Sundance Film Festival, the film was the winner of the Special Jury Award for Innovation in Nonfiction Storytelling, and an official selection of the True/False Film Festival. The movie will be available for streaming on Netflix October 2, 2020. Ahead of its release, exclusive to IndieWire, you can watch the trailer below.