Not knowing the box he bid on contained the negatives of an uncharted street photographer whose pictures would later become his own private money-spinner, geeky Chicago real estate agent John Maloof hit artistic and financial paydirt after essentially purchasing a stranger’s life at auction. Vivian Maier, an eccentric serial nanny on the city’s wealthy North Shore, was possessed with a Rolleiflex, an “authentic eye,” a faux French accent, and a pronounced dark side. Maier, who hated printing photographs, refused to show her work. In addition to unraveling Maier’s life in pictures, Maloof and co-director Charlie Siskel shine a compassionate light on the reclusive photog’s personal life. After setting the scene, Maloof wisely disappears into the background, allowing Vivian’s backstory to be told through interviews with the families she tended to. Billed as a documentary, it’s unlikely we’ll find a better suspense mystery this year than Finding Vivian Maier.
Length: 1 hour, 23 minutes