DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 24min
DIRECTED BY: John Maloof & Charlie Siskel
Self portrait: Maier
When John Maloof delved into a box of negatives bought at auction, he was struck by the multifaceted perceptiveness of the “incredible” street photography. “You always want to know,” he says in this attentively shaped character study, co-directed by Maloof and Charlie Siskel, “who is behind the work?” After Maloof posted the negs online in 2009, it emerged that the photographer was nanny Vivian Maier, a lone wolf with an artist’s eye who between the 1950s and the ’80s shot more than 150,000 photographs — and never showed them to a soul.
Why not? Maloof had to know. By tracking down families whose children she cared for, he discovered that in this So Me info age, Miss Maier, who was born in New York and spent the bulk of her childhood in France before returning to the US, where she died in 2009, was the consummate rarity: a private, non self-promoter — and peculiar, most probably, with her lack of ties and spiralling dark side. But above all, Vivian was an artist, deftly revealed here in a tracery of interviews that begins as a quest for answers, swells through a note of sorrow and wraps up, happily, with long-overdue acclaim.