The 8mm Films of Vivian Maier

A Rare Glimpse of the Late Street Photographer's 1970s Moving Image Work

These fragile, observational clips uncover Vivian Maier’s largely unseen experimentation with film. The New York-born photographer spent 40 years working as a nanny in Chicago, simultaneously fostering a secret passion for image-making that led her to document the urban life of America, enjoying her productive peak in the 50s and 60s. “Vivian saw details that pass us by in everyday life,” says director, curator and the primary caretaker of Maier’s oeuvre, John Maloof. When the photographer died in 2009 aged 83, the tens of thousands of images that she amassed during her lifetime were only just beginning to be discovered. After winning a bid for 30,000 of Maier’s negatives in a Chicago auction house in 2007, it took six months for Maloof to realize the importance of what he had purchased. “Little by little, I realized that the work was great,” he says. “Maier should wedge right in with the best photographers of her time, such as Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Lisette Model and Helen Levitt.” Next week, Finding Vivian Maier premieres at Toronto Film Festival. Directed by Maloof and Charlie Siskel, the documentary sheds light on the discovery of Maier’s hidden archive and slowly unravels her touching story. “She had few friends, never had a family of her own, and moved from place to place,” says Siskel. “There was little that was consistent in life; the one constant was her photography. With that, she never compromised.”

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Conversations (7)

  • HowardTSpencer72
    Like Roland Barthes, I couldn't help thinking all these people are dead now...or at least in their 60s or 70s.......somehow that makes it more beautiful....and poignant
    Usually music is a bad idea but this one works. It was nice to see my birth decade again as "new" I enjoyed this, very nice, thanks for sharing! :]
  • zendaze
    Ms. Maier had an awesome eye. The way she had seen/viewed everyday life is truly inspiring. Being a GWC, I can't help but believe she was capturing a feeling for what was occuring around her, like she was visually "smelling the roses."
  • Sarah310
    I liked it much better without music.
  • Plaidass
    The music is by Evan Hydzik & Phil Calato. They're listed in the credits at the end.
  • Maxclev
    Really enjoyed this piece...and like the previous commmenter would love to know about the music.. funny how many of us are using software to get that look from the overly sharp images we produce today...
    • Posted By Maxclev
    • September 07, 2013 at 11:19AM
    • Share Comment:
  • Martyn Smith
    I really like these little looks into everyday life, interesting and engaging. I like the melancholy music too. I wish there was some reference to the music.

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    Peter Beard: A Wild Life

    The Artist and Photographer On His Lifelong Dedication to the Natural World

    Peter Beard has been documenting and interpreting Africa’s epic landscapes and indigenous species for nearly six decades. Here he gives a rare insight into his life and practice in this meditative short from director Derek Peck. Shot at Beard’s home in Montauk, Long Island, we find the artist, author and photographer continuing to develop his complex collage practice that brings together found objects, contact sheets, literary quotes and photographs from Tsavo, Kenya, where he made some of his most memorable and affecting work on elephants in the 60s and 70s. “It does the heart good to see what nature has made available to us,” he says in today’s film. “Nature is the best thing we’ve got.” In his delicate, ornate work, his passion for the natural world is evident, and his commitment to the protection of the environment remains unwavering. “Peter is by turns charming and humorous, dark and brooding, and nostalgic,” Peck says of working with Beard. “Every photo in the collage would trigger a stream of thought about his time in Africa, photography, Montauk, and, especially, his concern for, and anger over, the state of the natural world. This subject more than any other has been at the heart of his work over his lifetime.”

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    Double Bill: Léa Seydoux

    Glen Luchford Captures A New York Moment with the Rag & Bone Stars in Today’s Two Films

    Glen Luchford's short films for NY fashion house rag & bone are as beautiful and elegant as they are real. Starring actors Palme d'Or winner Léa Seydoux and Michael Pitt, and set to a yearning Sparklehorse soundtrack, Luchford’s signature is a combination of dramatic understatement and modern nostalgia for the craft of shooting on film. “Having the confidence to let the shoot flow is a great feeling, because anything can happen,” explains Luchford, whose only direction for Seydoux and Pitt was to do “whatever came naturally. My aesthetic is planned and controlled reportage—which is obviously a contradiction. On the day, you have to just let go and see what happens. Sparks fly and unexplained ideas pop up.” Luchford started his career at as a fashion photographer on the style magazine The Face, going on to shoot iconic campaigns as well as directing the award-winning feature film, Here to Where. Rather than pose in the rag & bone collection, it seems Seydoux and Pitt were encouraged to live in it.

    What are your earliest memories of film and photography?
    Glen Luchford:
    I saw Snow White in the cinema when I was three years old, and something in the imagery stuck. I only remember a few scenes but they stayed clearly imprinted. Then The Wizard Of Oz at five, which blew me away. The fact that video didn’t exist then, and their unavailability, made them even more exotic and exciting.

    What appeals to you about fashion?
    Fashion has an ADD quality to it: it can't focus on anything for too long and has to keep shifting its gaze, like an irritable kid. I loved playing musical chairs as a child. Part of me feels like I’m still playing.

    How has your filmmaking evolved since Here to Where?
    : I’m not as good. Youth gives you something extra.

    What are you most proud of?
    Walking into The Face magazine's office and saying, “Give me a job, I can do that.”

    What inspires you today?
    Instagram, Intelligentsia Coffee and the word ‘Yes.’

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