So how is it that one of the greatest street photographers ever goes completely unnoticed in her lifetime? After watching Finding Vivian Maier, the answer seems simple: She was a little nuts.

First-time filmmaker John Maloof found Maier accidentally. He bought a box at an auction that contained hundreds of Maier’s images. After purchasing other boxes of Maier’s belongings at subsequent auctions (and from other people), he became consumed and began piecing together her life story.

She was American, though she told most people she was French. She worked as a nanny and a housekeeper, and many of Maier’s employers say that she was odd, secretive, and some of the now-adult children she cared for say she was downright wicked (and some of the stories bear out those accusations).

Maier was also a gifted photographer, and the vast number of images in her portfolio is staggering. By the time Maloof is on the case, Maier has died, but her few friends and employers give life to this fascinating person.

The images themselves tell only part of the story, and it’s unfortunate Maier isn’t here to fill in the gaps. (She may have chosen not to.) Still, the pictures are stunning. What an eye.


Directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
CCA Cinematheque
85 min.