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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Finding Vivian Maier


The film does double feminist duty: it brings to light the work of an extraordinary artist and ponders why she kept it all a secret.


Is there a female protagonist? [why this matters]


Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [why this matters]


[no issues]


[no issues]


Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

Pinpointing a protagonist can be tricky when it comes to documentaries, as this film demonstrates. While the subject of this film is obviously Vivian Maier, the filmmaker, John Maloof, is also very much a part of the story, which is about him trying to solve the mystery of Maier. This film straddles that line between being about its subject and being about a filmmaker who injects himself into the story. But the balance is still heavily tilted toward this as Maier’s story.


IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: Women are only very infrequently the subject of documentaries, often because their hand in historic events is downplayed, or because the important work they do stays hidden or ignored. This film does double duty in not only bringing to light the work of an artist with an extraordinary eye but in also examining the mystery of why she might have kept her work a secret.

Click here for the ranking of 2014’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Finding Vivian Maier! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Finding Vivian Maier.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)

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where are the women

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