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Film Review: FINDING VIVIAN MAIER

Directed and Written by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel

In 2007, a young scholar, John Maloof, writing a history of his Chicago neighborhood, came upon a treasure trove of negatives that he hoped would help him in his research. When he got around to examining them, they turned out to be the work of a Vivian Maier, a nanny in the Chicago area, only recently dead. He managed to buy more of her work, most of it never developed, and found Maier to be an impressive photographer whose work had never been seen publicly. In fact, Maier never seemed to make any attempt to have a gallery show. She was eccentric, mysterious, friendless.

Maloof sets out on a quest to find out who she was, which proves difficult. She worked for several Chicago families over the years, often unloved by her charges due to her sometimes harsh treatment. Being a Nanny gave her the time to pursue her art, dragging her charges along with her, to photograph pretty much everything she found on Chicago streets for fifty years. She never married, never seemed to care about much beyond taking pictures.

I have probably told you more than I should already so I will leave you with this: she never took a bad photograph and remained elusive and enigmatic until her death. Highly recommended.

 

Patti Abbott