The Painter and The Thief (15)

The Painter and The Thief (15)

Director: Benjamin Ree

Runtime: 1h42m

Cast: Karl Bertil-Nordland, Barbora Kysilkova, Øystein Stene


Synopsis: An artist befriends the thief who stole her paintings. She becomes his closest ally when he is severely hurt in a car crash and needs full time care, even if her paintings are not found. But then the tables turn.


Norwegian documentary filmmaker Benjamin Ree [Magnus (2016), When Ailin Kissed Lars (2014)] uses the unlikely bond between a criminal and his victim as the canvas for a genre-bending and compelling portrait of compassion and forgiveness.

The film tells how Czech artist, Barbora Kysilkova, desperate for answers about the theft of two of her large format oil photo-realist paintings, seeks out and befriends the career criminal, Karl Bertil-Nordland, who stole them. After inviting her thief to sit for a portrait, the two form an improbable relationship and an inextricable bond that will forever link these lonely souls.

Barbora Kysilkova had relocated from Berlin to Oslo to launch her career as a painter. In April of 2015, her two most valuable, large-format paintings were stolen – with immaculate care – in broad daylight from the window-fronts of Galleri Nobel in Oslo’s city centre. Desperate for answers about the theft of her paintings, Barbora was presented with an unusual opportunity to reach out to one of the men involved in the heist – Norwegian career criminal, Karl-‘Bertil’ Nordland. Filmmaker Benjamin Ree began to document the story after Barbora unbelievably invited her thief to sit for a portrait, capturing the unlikely relationship that developed as the equally damaged duo found common ground and formed an inseparable bond through their mutual love of art. Ultimately Barbora became ‘Bertil’s closest ally when he was severely hurt in a car crash and needed full time care.

Winner of the Creative Storytelling Prize at Sundance, The Painter and the Thief is a most surprising, moving and emotionally honest documentary, which poses questions about what might happen if we were all kinder and less self-absorbed.


In cinemas and on demand


Images courtesy of Dogwoof