The enigmatic street photographer is examined in this documentary, written and directed by the discoverer of her posthumous photographic legacy. After purchasing a box of negatives at a Chicago auction house, John Maloof scanned the images and posted them on the internet, causing a sensation. Knowing little about the photographer, he investigated further, and found she was a reclusive nanny who casually photographed life on Chicago's city streets. Purchasing almost every piece of film associated with her, he ultimately gathered nearly 100,000 negatives, and hundreds of undeveloped film canisters. Initially being rejected by the established art world, including a rejection from MoMA, her photographs are now displayed in museums and galleries to sold-out crowds around the world.
Featuring Maier's belongings laid out in pleasingly aesthetic displays of hats, shoes, costume jewelry, and unwashed checks, entertaining interviews with former employers and children under her care who reminisced about her, often contradicting one another, and gorgeous, intimate, and often slyly humorous photographs, Finding Vivian Maier is a bittersweet look at a master photographer who went unappreciated during her lifetime. A hermit-like hoarder who invented fake names and fake accents to distance herself from the outside world, Finding Vivian Maier attempts to illuminate a mysterious, complex individual, and succeeds as well as it can, in spite of the obstacles constructed throughout Maier's lifetime by her own camera-clutching hand.