Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

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[Alla Ricerca di Vivian Maier: recensione in italiano qui]

Presented at the Toronto Film Festival and the Berlinale, the documentary about Vivian Maier reveals an extraordinary investigation into the life of the most mysterious photographer of the 900, austere nanny, a secret artist whose treasure was discovered by chance only a few days after her death. Dead in poverty, she is now one of the most loved and important street photographers of the last century, with exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles, photo books and an archive of thousands of images. Behind his babysitter figure is a fascinating mystery: why has this woman always hidden her talent and her work?

April 2009. A person like many others, Vivian Maier, dies without heirs. His trunks full of old negatives and his junk are auctioned off. Just at that time John Maloof is writing a book about his Chicago neighborhood, wondering where he could find the right photographs to illustrate his book. He decided to take a trip to the auction house right in front of his apartment: here he bought a box full of negatives, finding a hidden treasure. Maloof buys all the negatives of Vivian Maier, finding a unique collection in his hands. Who was this woman? If she was such an amazing photographer, why on Google there isn’t a single line on her, but her obituary? Maloof opens a blog, starts scanning the negatives and posting the work of Vivian Maier on internet: a world opens up. He understands that he must concentrate his efforts on this mistery and the documentary tells the very investigation of Maloof in the past of this mysterious woman. Helped by the director Charlie Siskel, Maloof tracks down the people who knew her, defining the personality of this incredible nanny.

Vivian Maier’s photographs often offer a bizarre image of American society: her eyes were often focused on outcasts, on the poors, on beggars, but also left space for a great tenderness, for the children’s smile, the irony of everyday life. Those who knew her remember her as a very reserved woman, always accompanied by a camera, obsessed with newspaper clippings. A spy of the everyday disguised as a nanny, a Mary Poppins of photographic art, even more mysterious and eccentric, but with an absolutely extraordinary talent. Maloof and Siskel’s movie reveals a rather obscure side of the woman, a past made even more mysterious by his habit of always providing different names to those he met, from the total absence of relationships with relatives, from his hatred towards the male gender. One of the sides of a medal that includes a collection of works that have now become an integral part of the history of photography.

[Looking for more inspiration? Join us in the group Living Is Easy With One Eye Closed]

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