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SYNOPSIS: The late Vivian Maier (1926 - 2009) was a nanny in the 60s-70s New York and Chicago with a secret passion for photography. Her previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs earned her a posthumous reputation as one the most accomplished street photographers.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Something of a revelation - or rather, a series of revelations - about a unique individual who collected wonderfully observed images of people on her camera as if to make up for not collecting any in her actual life. A lonely spinster who worked as a nanny and carer while secretly amassing a stockpile of photographs and 8mm movies, hundreds of which weren't even developed when she died.

Although she never married nor seemed to have any men in her life nor any real friends, this word-picture of Vivien Maier is largely collated through the people whose lives she crossed, often in their childhood, perhaps a little later. It is the gradual revelation of a far more complex person than we at first imagined that makes this doco so compelling, as we begin to discover a woman whose fascination for the underbelly of city life reflected a darker underbelly in her own nature.

But Viven Maier collected not only images she took, she became a chronic hoarder, notably of thousands of newspapers preferably with noirish or grotesque headlines. The stacks took over her living quarters.

So there are two interconnected stories unraveling here (all beautifully edited into a whole by Aaron Wickenden): the top layer is the story that John Maloof tells about his unknowingly stumbling onto the Vivien Maier 'treasure' at an auction, where he regularly scavenged. He tells it himself to camera, and we follow his early surprise at what he had acquired through the continuing amazement as he follows the trail of Viven Maier ... which leads to the second layer of the story of Maier's personality and character, as well as a sketchy look at her life. Sketchy because she was seriously private and reclusive.

The interview subjects range from a professional photographer who admires her work to the Mayor of a French village where Maier spent some time, and most importantly, several people to whom Maier was once the nanny.

As for her street photos, they are striking and dramatic, black and white windows into strangers' lives, often in unposed moments that a candid camera magnifies. It is also something of an insight into Maloof's mission to bring Maier's work out of the darkroom of her hidden past into the very receptive present.

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(US, 2013)

CAST: Documentary featuring Vivien Maier, John Maloof, Daniel Arnaud,

PRODUCER: Not credited

DIRECTOR: John Maloof, Charlie Siskel

SCRIPT: John Maloof, Charlie Siskel


EDITOR: Aaron Wickenden

MUSIC: J. Ralph


RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 6, 2014

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