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FINDING VIVIAN MAIER (2013) DC Film and Book Club



(£4.50 conc.)

Doors 2:00pm

Film 2:30pm

A film and book club for avid readers and cinephiles. Every second Sunday afternoon of the month, we meet to watch a film adaptation of a book or a writer’s biopic.

dir. John Maloof, Charlie Siskel

year. 2013

country. US

run-time. 84mins

rating. 12

DC Film and Book Club meets again in November with a focus on street photographer Vivian Maier, pairing John Maloof and Charlie Siskel’s fascinating documentary Finding Vivian Maier with Christine Hesselholdt’s acclaimed fictionalised biography, Vivian, translated and published this year by Fitzcarraldo Editions.

At a Chicago auction house in 2007, a young estate agent purchases a box of 30,000 negatives of an unknown photographer. After publishing some on Flickr, the artworld start to take notice, driving Maloof’s quest to find out more about the elusive photographer, Vivian Maier. The documentary records his extraordinary trail, meeting the people who employed her as a nanny, leading to a lock-up where Maloof finds more negatives, undeveloped films and personal effects. 

Buying up her negatives from other buyers, Maloof becomes a major stakeholder in her legacy and success, making the film far from objective. Unsurprisingly, the resulting documentary reveals more about Maloof; Maier’s motives, thoughts and aspirations remain elusive. 

Largely unrecognised in her lifetime, Maier is now likened to luminaries such as Diane Arbus and Bresson, as a prolific and outstanding photographer of life on the streets of mid 20th century Chicago and New York. 

Unlike Maloof’s frustrating journey to build a comprehensive history of Maier, Hesselholdt’s radical biography uses fragments and snapshots as the only way to narrate Maier’s story. Written in short broken passages, the book glitters with the commonplace, the extraordinary minutiae of street life and the struggles of an artist. Her life is retold through multiple voices, thoughts and anecdotes of women who knew her.  

Join us to discuss these two approaches to Maier’s life and work after the screening.

Tea, cake and other refreshments available.

Viv 1.jpg
A fascinating study of a brilliant undiscovered talent
— Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Vivian-Maier 2.jpg
Only the second of Hesselholdt’s works to be translated into English — adroitly so by Paul Russell Garrett — this fragmented, polyphonic novel plays with the enigma of its subject: “Vivian”, “Viv”, “Vivienne”, “Miss Maier”, “Kiki”, “V. Smith”, depending on the scene or her mood. ... Never sacrificing the opacity that makes Maier so fascinating, [Vivian] is as strange and mercurial as the inscrutable figure at its centre, and as prickly too. But then, as Hesselholdt has Vivian explain to one of her small charges, “Art is not somewhere you feel comfortable.”
— Lucy Scholes, Financial Times