Absorbing, touching and satisfyingly enjoyable.- New York Times
I just went to see the most fascinating documentary last night called Finding Vivian Maier. Vivian’s name had been in the news a few years back when a man named John Maloof purchased a trove of her work at a thrift auction in Chicago. What he bought turned out to be 100,000 negatives of Vivian’s street photography that she took over the course of 50 years in New York City, Chicago and France. The most amazing thing was that she had never showed her work to anyone.
John, who is a photographer, filmmaker and historian, was amazed by Vivian’s brilliant eye and became fascinated with who she was. His curiosity led him on a quest to piece together Vivian’s life as he traced her footsteps through Chicago, New York City and France. John’s journey to find the woman behind the lens is the subject of the documentary Finding Vivian Maier.
A self portrait.
He discovers that Vivian worked as a nanny and caretaker for the majority of her life in Chicago. Being a nanny allowed her the flexibility to indulge in photography. She would often take her young charges along with her as she wandered the city streets in search of subjects. The shots that resulted from her Rolleiflex camera reveal a captivating portrait of 20th century America.
Vivian had an amazing sense of light and was often drawn to the bizarre. She saw the beauty in fleeting moments that many people would just pass over.
As the film progressed, I found myself becoming more and more gripped by Vivian’s story. It really is a haunting portrait of brilliance and loneliness.
The film has been incredibly well received and was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary. Thankfully, John is giving Vivian the chance that she never had in life. Since his discovery, her work has been curated by numerous galleries and seen by thousands.
The film is now available on Netflix. You won’t regret watching it.