Zimbelism – Directors, Matt Zimbel Jean-François Gratton

Last film of the week and one of the best. This tells the story of George Zimbel, one of the best known and talented street photographers of our time. The image here is of the classic series he did of Marilyn Monroe but he also known for pictures of John Kennedy and many other iconic images of the 20th century. We meet the photographer himself and his very strong opinions of his work and his efforts to protect it. He still uses film not digital photography and lives in his dark room perfecting his work. He has strong opinions about what he calls the digital diarrhea of the new cameras that takes away the latent talent of the photographer’s eye. He is a street photographer and few of his images are ever posed. Many do not know they are being photographed and that occasionally has created issues for him around privacy laws. The film also traces his conflict with the New York Times over ownership of his Kennedy pictures which he licensed the Times to print but not own. The exchange of correspondence between him and the New York Times lawyer are classic. I could not help thinking of another film: Finding Vivian Maier. In 2012 at TIFF this documentary traced the work of Vivian Maier who was also a street photographer but who remained totally anonymous until long after her death. She did not work in the dark room and her film developed in local shops and put it away so no one ever saw it until is was accidently discovered after her death. It brings to mind Zimbel’s comment that the art of photography is very much in the eye of the photographer and also that I like street photography very much. Both films are very good and should be seen together I think.