Two 2015 Oscar Movies Worth Watching for Fine Art Photography Fans

I love watching movies.  In fact, when I was younger I really wanted to get into movie-making instead of photography.  Well, that obviously didn’t happen, but my appreciation for the art form hasn’t dissapated.  This year has been the first in many that I have actually gotten to see a fair amount of films (though never enough!).  I had thought to write a post about my picks for the awards (and the Birdman vs. Boyhood debate), but instead of taking on a movie critic’s job, I figured out a more relevant blog post idea (though, if anyone wants to discuss the best picture debate, I am happy to exchange some words on it – just email me!).

So, let’s take a look at two movies that I find worth watching if you are a fan of fine art photography (and I hope you are, if you are a fan of mine : )).  The first movie is a documentary, Finding Vivian Maier.

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Though it didn’t win the Academy Award, I think this movie is must-see if you are a lover of black and white photographs, street photography portraits, and mystery.  The premise is this:

“Finding Vivian Maier is the critically acclaimed documentary about a mysterious nanny, who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that were hidden in storage lockers and, discovered decades later, is now among the 20th century’s greatest photographers. Directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, Maier’s strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never before seen photographs, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her.

Maier’s massive body of work would come to light when in 2007 her work was discovered at a local thrift auction house on Chicago’s Northwest Side. From there, it would eventually impact the world over and change the life of the man who championed her work and brought it to the public eye, John Maloof.

Currently, Vivian Maier’s body of work is being archived and cataloged for the enjoyment of others and for future generations. John Maloof is at the core of this project after reconstructing most of the archive, having been previously dispersed to the various buyers attending that auction. Now, with roughly 90% of her archive reconstructed, Vivian’s work is part of a renaissance in interest in the art of Street Photography.”

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Her images are extremely vivid, powerful and inspiring.  They were the type that gave me goosebumps, often.  I felt like I was looking at some of Diane Arbus’s and Robert Frank’s imagery, but stronger (can I even say that?!).  She captures strangers in a way that is both tender and humiliating at the same time.  The interview with Joel Meyerowitz is awesome too (sidenote:  I took a workshop with Meyerowitz at Castle Hill in Truro when I was 17 and fell in love – he is insightful, encouraging and optimistic – a lot of successful photographers are not).

I was also intrigued by the fascinating story of who Vivian was.  For she was a peculiar person and far from a saint.  As many of you know I am on the hunt for a nanny and I don’t think I would want her to be it!  All in all, I really recommend not only watching this movie, but also taking a look at the beautiful interactive website filled with her images.  If a show makes it’s way to Boston it’s definitely going to be on my must-see list.

The second movie was named the Best Foreign Film movie this year, IDA.

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On their website, they give the following synopsis:

Poland  1962. Anna is a novice, an orphan brought up by nuns in the convent. She has to see Wanda, the only living relative, before she takes her vows. Wanda tells Anna that  Anna is Jewish. Both women start a journey not only to find their family tragic story, but who they really are and where they belong. They question their religions and ideas  they believed in. Both are trying to go on living but only one of them can.

IDA is an example of art house film perfection.  Short, deliberate, poetic, and beautiful.  Again, I encourage you to take a look at the movie’s website, because it too reflects the approach of simplicity director Pawel Palikowski takes.

To me, this movie ranks up there as one of the most beautifully shot movies ever (I think it should have beaten Birdman in Cinemotography!).  The film is shot in black and white, often in low light situations, with strong compositions and deliberate placing of the subject (often tucked into a corner of the screen).  Each scene seems like a photograph.  It took me a bit to figure out why this was.  The reason? Each shot is taken with a camera still on a camera.  No panning, no zoom, no hand-holding.  All that moves is the scene in front of you.  Photographs are made this way – not movies!  (well, rarely).  So it’s a real nod to photography.  There are only two shots in the movie that are handheld and panning.  I will let you spot them : )

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I encourage you to check them out.  Both can be found On-Demand.  Enjoy, and let me know what you think : )