Part of SFFILM Festival
The Painter and the Thief
San Francisco, CA 94103 United States
When two large-scale paintings by Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova are stolen from a gallery in Oslo, she finds herself in the courtroom with one of the convicted thieves, Karl-Bertil Nordland. She asks to paint Nordland, both for compensation and to see if she can relocate her lost art, and an unlikely connection forms, one that is both slightly obsessive and deeply moving as they become close. Alternating between both of their perspectives, filmmaker Benjamin Ree crafts a compelling film about things we take from one another while trying to connect.
“Incredible. That’s the word that comes to mind with Benjamin Ree’s The Painter and the Thief, a stranger-than-fiction friendship story in which vérité techniques produce unbelievable results. I don’t mean to imply that this astonishing documentary isn’t truthful. Rather, I’m in awe of how things played out, and fully aware that there was a certain amount of manipulation — not necessarily of the facts, but certainly in the way they’re presented — required to produce the cinematic equivalent of a cubist portrait, in which an artist and her unlikely muse are made to overlap, revealing unexpected dimensions of one another over time.” –Peter Debruge, Variety
Benjamin Ree began his career as a journalist with Reuters and the BBC before branching off into filmmaking. After completing a couple of shorts, he made his first feature Magnus (2016). The Painter and the Thief, his second feature, won a Special Jury Award for Creative Filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival.
“I was actually researching art robberies, because I’m very fascinated by art robberies, and in Norway, they have a great tradition of art robbery, particularly Edvard Munch robberies. So, I was reading a lot about it, having some meetings. Then I just came across this story; it was on the front page… That was the beginning of [The Painter and the Thief]. I didn’t know what it would end up becoming, because every film I do, I tend to come in early in the process and film and see what happens. So, I always go into making documentaries with the thought of, ‘Is this is going to be maybe a short documentary?’ This story just went crazy.” –Benjamin Ree, Hammer to Nail