Finding Vivian Maier

Since John Maloof first happened to acquire a box of Vivian Maier‘s negatives in a 2007 auction, more and more attention has gathered about the mysterious nanny who shot over 100,000 street photos. From Friday, April 11- Thursday, April 17 the 2013 documentary Finding Vivian Maier is showing at San Francisco’s Clay Theatre on it’s US tour. The documentary focuses not only on her work but also on her life after her death through research and interviews.

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I had a great Friday evening going to Clay Theatre to see the film screening that I had anticipated for several months since first learning about Vivian Maier through word of mouth. Her work is also currently showing in San Francisco and Berkeley, however I was most interested in learning about the story behind her work and about her life. The result was a really interesting documentary.

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Some of the more fascinating moments for me were learning that a lab in New York is working 9-5 Monday-Friday developing rolls that remained undeveloped in Maier’s chests at a rate of thousands per week. There was also great humor that was well-received by the audience, such as the debate on whether or not she was French and had an authentic French accent. However there was a lot of implied abuse amongst the childhood of this woman described as ‘very private’ and there are accounts of her being abusive as a nanny. I found it sad and jarring to think about the amount of trauma Maier may have carried into adulthood and the extent to which her pain may have dictated her life.

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