×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Finding Vivian Maier’ Reveals Life of Mysterious Street Photographer

A documentary about a photographer can be as two-dimensional as a snapshot itself unless the shutterbug’s life also makes a compelling story.  “Finding Vivian Maier,” the story of a Chicago nanny and street photographer is as fascinating for unraveling the life of its mysterious subject as it is for revealing her finely-observed photos. The Sundance Selects release, which opens Friday, recalls the 2010 doc “Bill Cunningham New York.” But unlike Cunningham, whose fashion-centered photos are seen weekly in the New York Times, Maier’s photos went unseen throughout her life.

The photos only came to light in 2007, after historian and author John Maloof came across a box of negatives at an auction while researching a book on Chicago history. For several years, Maloof tracked down more negatives, printed the remarkable photos and posted them on a blog which quickly went viral as the prolific nanny’s story captivated readers.

But the galleries he showed the work to saw the unknown woman more as a folk artist more than a serious photographer, despite the photos’ humor and skill. “What I was interested in was who was this person,” says Maloof, who after buying the first batch of negatives, found her recent obituary and tracked down who placed it — two of the now-adult charges of the longtime nanny who had also once worked for Phil Donahue.

Maloof thought of doing a documentary to help bring attention to her work, and comic Jeff Garlin, a photography buff,  heard about the project and came on as executive producer. “He really wanted to help me,” said Maloof. “I needed help from somebody to structure the material and help with the narrative arc.” Garlin talked to Michael Moore, who recommended that Maloof work with documentary filmmaker Charlie Siskel, nephew of the late film critic Gene Siskel. “He hit it off with how we wanted to tell the story,” says Maloof.

“The Chicago connection was exciting on many levels,” says Siskel. “She was a nanny in the neighborhood where I grew up in Highland Park. I saw films of the elementary school where I went, and recognized teachers. I recognized and understood the people who were our subjects.”

The doc screened at the Toronto, Palm Springs and Berlin Film Festivals and will also be available on VOD starting March 31. Maloof hopes it will help get draw attention to preserving Maier’s legacy and for her recognition as an artist. “The goal has been to put Vivian Maier in the history books — that doesn’t happen overnight,” he says.

More Film

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Hollywood Agents Warn of Losses to Writers Without Packaging Fees

    The bitter war of words between Hollywood agents and writers continues. Agents are warning that the Writers Guild of America’s proposed elimination of television packaging fees will hurt writers to the tune of $49 million annually in commissions. The Association of Talent Agents released a report Monday by the L.E.K. consulting firm asserting that WGA [...]

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Leonardo DiCaprio Unveils 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Poster With Brad Pitt

    Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are front and center against the backdrop of a blurred Hollywood sign in the poster for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” DiCaprio revealed the poster with the brief tweet, “Hollywood. 1969. #OnceUponATimeInHollywood.” Hollywood. 1969. #OnceUponATimeInHollywood pic.twitter.com/1CRSiiQ643 — Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) March 18, 2019 Social media reactions range [...]

  • Warner Bros. HQ LA

    WarnerMedia Setting Interim Leadership Team After Kevin Tsujihara Ouster (EXCLUSIVE)

    An interim leadership team will take the reins at Warner Bros. Entertainment following the shocking dismissal of CEO Kevin Tsujihara on Monday. The team will likely consist of Warner Bros. motion pictures group chairman Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. television group president and CCO Peter Roth, and at least one other top executive, individuals familiar with [...]

  • Kristin Cotich Spyglass

    Kristin Cotich Named Communications Chief for Spyglass Media

    Veteran executive Kristin Cotich has been hired as executive vice president of worldwide communications for Gary Barber’s newly formed Spyglass Media Group. The announcement was made Monday by Barber, chairman and chief executive officer of Spyglass, to whom Cotich will report. Spyglass said Cotich is responsible for developing and executing worldwide communications strategies and implementing [...]

  • Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield

    Issa Rae, LaKeith Stanfield to Star in Stella Meghie's 'The Photograph'

    Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield will star in Universal’s “The Photograph,” sources tell Variety. Stella Meghie will direct and Will Packer will produce for his eponymous production company. The romantic drama centers on intertwining love stories in the past and present. Universal is very high on the pic after Meghie impressed execs with her original [...]

  • Aaron Paul attends the 2019 Sun

    Aaron Paul, Chelsea Handler and Meg Ryan Topline Sun Valley Film Fest

    Aaron Paul is an Idaho boy at heart. The three-time Emmy winning star of “Breaking Bad” and producer and actor on Nickelodeon’s bawdy, subversive animated series “Bojack Horseman” currently makes his home in Los Angeles, but Paul was born in Emmett, a sleepy city about 30 miles outside of Boise, and escapes to the spud [...]

  • Writers Guild Blasts CAA, WME for

    Writers Guild Blasts Talent Agencies CAA, WME for 'Soaring' Profits

    The Writers Guild of America has singled out Hollywood’s largest talent agencies, William Morris Endeavor and Creative Artists Agency, for allegedly soaring profits. The WGA, in an acrimonious negotiation over proposed new rules about how agencies represent writers, issued a report called “agencies for sale” on Monday morning — a few hours before a fifth [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content