Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Indiewire logo

Exploiting Vivian Maier: When Do Docs Invade Privacy?

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik March 27, 2014 at 1:14PM

Don't get me wrong: I like "Finding Vivian Maier," the new documentary I wrote about in Indiewire, which is opening this week. And by raising the many issues that are inherent in the film, I don't mean to simply criticize the movie: I only mean to highlight what's already there. As I wrote today: The film raises many questions: When is it "appropriate to expose the lives and works of others who would rather be left alone? What responsibilities do filmmakers have when they speak on behalf of those who have chosen not to speak publicly for themselves?"
2

Don't get me wrong: I like "Finding Vivian Maier," the new documentary I wrote about in Indiewire for my new column "Reality Checks." And by raising the many issues that are inherent in the film, I don't mean to simply criticize the movie: I only mean to highlight what's already there. As I wrote today: The film raises many questions pertinent to all documentarians: When is it "appropriate to expose the lives and works of others who would rather be left alone? What responsibilities do filmmakers have when they speak on behalf of those who have chosen not to speak publicly for themselves? When should filmmakers keep pressing on the private life of an individual and when should they stand back?" 

vivian maier

The case of Vivian Maier so pointedly brings up these questions because she was so private. The filmmakers, in fact, spend a lot of time establishing this fact. It is one of the key ways that they define her. So, then, are the filmmakers aware that in doing so they are pushing this issue front and center: Are they acknowledging the fact that their film may be an invasion of Maier's privacy? 

Coincidentally, I happen to be teaching a class on the history and issues of documentary film, and last week, we were looking at Edgar Morin and Jean Rouch's cinema verite classic, "Chronicle of a Summer." In that film, the filmmakers go out of their way at every step of the process to include their subjects in the process of their film--to attempt to, in effect, break down the unfair power discrepancy that exists between those behind the camera and those in front of it. Of course, we are a long way off from the 1960s paradigms of Cinema Verite and Direct Cinema, but I do think Morin and Rouch touched on some very key ethical issues when it comes to documentary films that still resonates very much to this day.


Follow us

E-Mail Updates



Recent Comments

By Bob Connors: The thing to remember is the video has some actual data but it's conclusions are far fetched and inaccurate. This is a Progressive propaghand…

Who is "Politizane" and What's Next for the Income Inequality Viral Video

Mar 21th, 2015 8:47am

By Ostlee: This makes very sad reading - i feel for the people of Maldives. Everyone should boycott the island as a holiday destination until Nasheed…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 13th, 2015 5:35pm

By Ahmed Shahid: Release the first democratically elected president. The only president of Maldives who has reached the people of Maldives, heard them and…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 12th, 2015 9:37am

By Hanne Neve: Please take care of your country and the climate by freeing your real selektet president.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 11th, 2015 9:09am

By Iqbal: Please release President Nasheed

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 10:27pm

By Martha Robertson: I strongly urge the immediate release of Nasheed!

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 9:37pm

By Ned Rollins: Bad business, going to bite you.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 3:47pm

By John Painter: The guy isnt a terrorist.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 12:00pm

By Sofia Vera: I support Presdient Nasheed and add my name to this letter of support for his release.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 11:14am

By Margarett R Mulkey: A civilized society is required of the current government of the Maldives. The world is watching injustice and crimes, and many realized thes…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 10:53am