A documentary on the late Vivian Maier, a nanny whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs earned her a posthumous reputation as one of the most accomplished street photographers.
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vivian Maier ... Self (archive footage)
John Maloof ... Self - Narrator
Daniel Arnaud Daniel Arnaud ... Self - Interview Subject
Simon Amédé Simon Amédé ... Self - Interview Subject
Maren Baylaender Maren Baylaender ... Self - Interview Subject
Eula Biss Eula Biss ... Self - Interview Subject
Bindy Bitterman ... Self - Interview Subject
Roger Carlson Roger Carlson ... Self - Interview Subject
Phil Donahue ... Self - Talk Show Host
Karen Frank Karen Frank ... Self - Interview Subject
Dayanara Garcia Dayanara Garcia ... Self - Interview Subject
Howard Greenberg ... Self - Gallery Owner
Sylvain Jaussaud Sylvain Jaussaud ... Self - Interview Subject
Patrick Kennedy Patrick Kennedy ... Self - Interview Subject
Virginia Kennedy Virginia Kennedy ... Self - Interview Subject


Real estate agent John Maloof explains how a trip to a local auction house, in search for old pictures to use for a history book about his neighborhood, resulted in him bidding and winning a box full of old negatives. John goes through the massive quantity of negatives, describes how impressed he is by the quality of the images, becomes quickly determined they are not reverent to his project and just puts them away. That could have very likely had been the end of the story, if the power of the images had not pushed him to fall in love with photography. John confides that his photo hobby quickly motivated him to set up a darkroom and devote large amounts of time printing. As he learned more about photography, he recognized that those negatives he had bought, then stored, were the work of a real master. In an attempt to confirm his suspicion, he selected about 100 images and put them online with the hope that the feedback would confirm his judgement as to the strength of the images. Written by Lane J. Lubell of Cinemashadow.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The discovery that rocked the art world.


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User Reviews

Photo Realism
6 May 2014 | by jadepietroSee all my reviews

This film is recommended.

Filmmaker John Maloof stumbles upon a trove of unwanted photos at an auction by a relatively unknown artist named Vivian Maier and this documentary, co-directed with Charlie Siskel, wants to make her well known and just may do so. His Antique Roadshow story becomes the basis for his documentary, Finding Vivian Maier, and it's almost too obvious that this filmmaker wants to create a legend and myth in this well done infomercial for this talented woman. Through interviews and archival footage of her photographic work, we learn little about this eccentric artist's life, she remain an enigma. But her photographic more than fulfills her lasting legacy.

To be honest, the film does not present a well balanced view of the late artist, and is purposely biased in its approach to heralding her fame. But Miss Maier's work, part Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, and Walker Evans, is certainly powerful. Her street photography is quite remarkable with a dark and insightful point of view.

Armed with a Rolleiflex camera, Maier shot over 100,000 photos of street life. Her imagery, mostly head shots of people on the streets of Chicago beginning in the 1960's, is varied and quite accomplished. Her photo journalistic style documents those times well into the 90's era. Her use of shadows and light are particularly effective and help to create a chilling mood with its subjects and their environs.

Finding Vivian Maier tries to uncover this artist's personal life, but never achieves that goal, due to conflicting stories by interviewees and the lack of physical evidence left by Maier herself. We take away from the film the fact that she was a private person whose main job was being a full-time nanny, although she may have possibly had severe mentally issues. She was a creative and prolific artist on the side, rarely printing or showing her own work to others. But we also take away from this biography a slightly disturbing feeling that the filmmakers might have an ulterior motive, taking advantage of the artist for purely financial reasons rather than mere admiration of her work. Some details (her early life, her friends and family members, her death) are glossed over instead of examined with any depth or mention.

That said, the filmmakers have assembled a compelling portrait of the photographer and her work is certainly worthy of attention. We may not find the real essence of the artist in the documentary, Finding Vivian Maier, but the journey itself and Vivian Maier's memorable imagery makes for fascinating viewing. GRADE: B

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English | French

Release Date:

17 April 2014 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Finding Vivian Maier See more »

Filming Locations:

Chicago, Illinois, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$63,600, 30 March 2014

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Ravine Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs



Color | Black and White (archive material)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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