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“The Main Painting That Is Stolen Is of a Dead Swan”: Benjamin Ree | The Painter and the Thief

A still from The Painter and the Thief by Benjamin Ree (courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Whether capturing or creating a world, the objects onscreen tell as much of a story as the people within it. Whether sourced or accidental, insert shot or background detail, what prop or piece of set decoration do you find particularly integral to your film? What story does it tell?

The most important objects in our film are the missing paintings. The film is about a painter and a thief. Two paintings are stolen from Oslo-based artist Barbora Kysilkova, and the police catch the thieves but the paintings are never found. Barbora attends the court case hoping to find clues for where they can be, but instead walks over to one of the criminals to ask not where her paintings are, but if she can paint him. The very unusual relationship between Barbora and Karl-Berlil, the thief, evolves from there. The main painting that is stolen is of a dead swan and it’s titled Swan Song. You can interpret that as you like. But it’s clearly a symbol of the film.

Sundance Responses 2020

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