Tuesday, 4 November 2014


Vendetta Films

Nanny. Photographer. Artist. American. French. Spy? The enigma who was Vivian Maier is mostly unraveled in John Maloof and Charlie Siskel's documentary, which follows the filmmakers' mission to discover the person behind the treasure trove of black and white photographs Maloof fortuitously stumbled upon at auction.

Maier's photographs (the negatives number in the tens of thousands) showed the woman to be an astute social documentarian of 20th century New York and Chicago; their streetscapes and the people who inhabited them captured in unadorned yet beautiful monochrome.

But how did such a prodigious and talented photographer go undiscovered? And even more curious, why did Maier work as a nanny for upper middle class families when she could have been so much more?

Maloof -- who inserts himself a little too much into the doco -- talks to the people who hired Vivian Maier as an au pair and the children she raised; each with similar recollections of the stern yet exciting woman with a French accent, an ever-present camera, and a dark side.

Like many a great artist, Maier had a troubled past and her own demons to battle but without family or close relations to help fill-in the blanks, Maloof and Siskel provide a fascinating yet incomplete portrait of the woman.

The photographs, however, speak eloquently and in volume to her artistry.

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