Saturday, February 7, 2015

OSCAR WATCH 2015: Finding Vivian Maier

Finding Vivian Maier is the most extraordinary documentary. A young guy is looking for photos of Chicago for his work, he goes to an auction and wins a bid on this old trunk chock full of thousands of negatives. They don't work for his needs, but he is overwhelmed at how good they are and begins to investigate the woman who took them, Vivian Maier. He googles her and nothing, he can't believe work so good is not known.
There had been other suitcases and trunks in the auction and he tracks down who won bids for them and purchases them. He googles her name for the second time, and he finds she has recently passed. He tracks down people who knew her and they said she was a hoarder and they were going to clear out her storage shed if he wanted to come.
He does, hoarder is an understatement, he takes a whole range of boxes and finds the most amazing and ordinary things from her life. He decides this is a good idea for a project and he will do an exhibition of her work and try to find out about her.
This is when things get interesting, and I won't give away too much, but Vivian was complex, unusual, eccentric, never married nor had children, and was a nanny. She also had a dark side.
John Maloof is the young man who found the photos, is behind their preservation, and directed the film along with Charlie Siskel. His understanding of the significance of the negatives is serendipitous, and his pains to get to the bottom of the story and show the world her incredible art is nothing short of miraculous.
I was going to add some of her photos here, but really, you need to see them on the big screen, the impact of them, her style, their magnificence is something to behold.

This film is a piece of art itself, the way it was shot, the interviews with those that knew her, the footage found, the unveiling of Vivian, and the journey across the globe to find out about her is presented in such a beautiful way, I was incredibly moved.
In fact, the way the documentary unfolds is wonderful, like a thriller, you are kept on the edge of your seat, wondering, "what next?"
It is such a human story, I laughed and I wept, and I wondered about this woman and why she led her life as she did...which of course you need to see the film to understand what I mean.
I saw this at The Regal, and unsure if they will show it again, but if you get the opportunity to see this documentary, you simply must, especially if you love photography (as I do)!! 

It is nominated for Best Documentary at The Academy Awards and is one of the frontrunners to win.

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