Art Heist Doc ‘The Thief Collector’ Acquired by FilmRise – Variety

New York-based film and TV studio and streaming network FilmRise has acquired North American distribution rights to true-crime documentary feature film “The Thief Collector.”

Directed by Emmy winner Allison Otto (“The Love Bugs”), the film follows one of the most audacious and puzzling art thefts of a generation. In 1985, Willem de Kooning’s seminal work, “Woman-Ochre,” was sliced from its frame and stolen off the walls of the University of Arizona Museum of Art, disappearing into the desert. Over 30 years later, in a remote town in New Mexico, the $160 million dollar painting was rediscovered in the unlikeliest of places – the home of an eccentric married couple, both schoolteachers, with a keen eye for great works but a very unconventional method of collecting them. The film features Glenn Howerton co-creator, director, writer and star of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

“The Thief Collector” had its world premiere at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. It was also nominated for the Ad Hoc Docs Competition at the 2022 Cleveland International Film Festival.

Reviewing the film, Variety critic Owen Gleiberman said: “‘The Thief Collector’ is a nimble and entertaining dissection of a crime.”

The film is produced by Caryn Capotosto (“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”) of Museum & Crane, Jill Latiano Howerton and Joshua Kunau of Roots Productions, with XTR. Bryn Mooser, Kathryn Everett, Justin Lacob, Tony Hsieh, John Boccardo, Derek Esplin and Andy Hsieh serve as executive producers.

The deal was negotiated by Gabriel Gazoul, director of acquisitions, new release, for FilmRise and Eric Sloss of Cinetic Media, on behalf of the filmmakers.

Max Einhorn, head of content at FilmRise, said: “We are confident streaming audiences will be drawn to Allison Otto’s new film as it uniquely combines the strong appeal and captivating nature of crime documentaries together with the true story of one of the most audacious art heists in history, making it irresistible. We are also always thrilled to bring premium true crime stories by stellar independent filmmakers to our streaming offerings in the genre so we can reach even broader audiences.”

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