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SFFILM Festival

The Thief Collector

Directed by Allison Otto

USA | 94

22 Apr
Fri, Apr 22, 2022 at 5:30 pm PT


When thieves aggressively ripped a $160 million Willem de Kooning painting from its frame at a Tucson, Arizona, museum in 1985, the mystery of the stolen artwork became local lore. Questions only deepened surrounding one of the most puzzling heists of the 20th century when the peerless painting shockingly reappeared, discovered among the items in a middle-class New Mexico widow’s estate sale. How did Rita Alter and her husband, Jerry, both mild-mannered schoolteachers, come to possess de Kooning’s work? Breadcrumbs left behind by the late couple slowly reveal a life rife with duplicity and crime. One of the art world’s most bizarre and surreal stories unfolds in this fascinating documentary.

Director Allison Otto

Allison Otto made her directing debut with the short film Keeper of the Mountains (2013), followed by The Love Bugs (2019), for which she won a News & Documentary Emmy. As a journalist, her clients have included NBC, BBC America, National Geographic, Travel Channel, Atlas Obscura, Lonely Planet, and Travel Channel. She is a former SFFILM FilmHouse resident and she is the recipient of a 2019 SFFILM Catapult Film Fellowship. The Thief Collector (2022) in her first feature.



Film Details

Language English

Year 2022

Premiere California

Runtime 94

Country USA

Director Allison Otto

Executive Producer Bryn Mooser, Kathryn Everett, Tony Hsieh, Andy Hsieh, Justin Lacob, John Boccardo, Derek Esplin

Producer Caryn Capotosto, Jill Latiano Howerton, Joshua Kunau

Editor Nick Andert

Cinematographer Rod Hassler, Matt Ryan

Music Daniel Wohl

Closed Captions Closed captions are available for this screening. Please let us know if you would like a closed-captioning device when purchasing your ticket or by emailing ADA@SFFilm.org

Audio Description Audio description is not available for this screening.

American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation is not currently scheduled for this event. For more information about ASL interpretation at our events, e-mail ADA@SFFilm.org.