The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne World Premiere Hot Docs Documentary Festival 2013 GAT PR Press Summary
Feel Good Jewel Thief Tale 'Doris Payne' Charms Hot Docs Audiences BY PETER KNEGT | APRIL 29, 2013 1:04 PM http://www.indiewire.com/article/feel-‐good-‐jewel-‐thief-‐tale-‐doris-‐payne-‐charms-‐hot-‐docs-‐ audiences
One of the many world premieres that enjoyed a warm response from Hot Docs' opening weekend (here's our take on another), Kirk Marcolina and Matthew Pond's "The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne" tells the remarkable story of their titular subject -‐-‐ a woman who went from a poor, single African-‐American mother from segregated 1950s America to becoming one of the world’s most notorious jewel thieves. Doris Payne -‐-‐ now 81 years old -‐-‐ comes across as blissfully unapologetic and unusually inspirational in the film, which uses interviews with Payne and her friends and family as well as archival footage and recreations to tell her mind blowing tale. She was a black woman traveling around the world hobnobbing in circles in Monte Carlo and Paris in high end jewelry stores. She was convincing people she was one of their ilk when in the States she had to sit at the back of the bus. In some ways, she's very much a pioneer for civil rights. "I think there are lessons to be learned from Doris," Pond told Indiewire this weekend. "There's a real joy that she has to her. And she lives in the moment. I think part of what enables her to do what she does is her
fearlessness. If she gets caught and thrown in jail, she still maintains that joy. There's no deterrent for her because she has such an innate joy. Her happiness level is set to a high bar." Pond -‐-‐ making his feature film debut with the film (Marcolina previously directed 2006's doc "Camp Out" with Larry Grimaldi), went and visited Payne in an Orange County jail a little over 3 years ago after reading about her in the newspaper. "I drove down to the jail and introduced myself," he said. "She was behind the glass. I had a phone, and she had a phone, and we just started talking. From there, we developed a relationship and I'd go visit her once a week. She was released a few months after that and then Kirk and I started filming shortly thereafter." Pond said that the process that came after was easy in the sense that Payne very much likes the camera, but not so easy because she's, well, a jewel thief. "Part of her MO is to deceive people," he said. "She lies, but she's charming and sweet at the same time. So there was a lot of push-‐pull, push-‐pull. She was very guarded at times with what she'd share with us." "I think it was a case of mutual seduction," added Marcolina. "We wanted to make a documentary about this interesting character but at the same time she is proud of being a jewel thief. She feels that this her legacy and she's very proud of it. She wanted her story to be shared with the world. So she was seducing us because she had this great story and we were seducing her because we were providing an outlet for her to tell her story which she really wanted to get out there." Marcolina said working with Payne was always a bit complex. "I always think of her like an onion," he said. "You peel back another layer and you see another side of Doris. At times, we were charmed by her. At times, we wanted to pull our hair out. She could be very frustrating and hard to work with. But most of the time it was just fun to sit there and listen to her stories." So what were some of Pond and Marcolina's favorite Doris tales? "We were never entirely sure if what she was telling us was entirely truthful," Pond said. "But we got the FBI files from the Freedom of Information Request and they backed up so much of what she had said. She escaped at least four times from custody. She told us about two of them. Jumping off trains, forging her way out of jail... She's truly resourceful and outrageous and lives in the moment." Marcolina added that they'd wrap the interview and think there was no way that story could be true. "And low and behold, we get the FBI files and it's all true," he said. "You're never quite sure if she's telling the truth or not at any given time. She lives in a world where creating stories and playing roles. So when those FBI files came in and backed up so much of what she said I was just 'wow... she really is as good as she says she is." "Or even better," Pond added. "She's a badass with a good heart." Pond said he likes to think of "Doris Payne" as a "feel good crime story." "There's no guns, there's no violence," he said. "She does take advantage of people but they are jewelry stores with insurance companies." Marcolina said that was how Payne seemed to feel about it. "She would always say she's not really hurting people," he said. "They have insurance and they are just going to get paid by the insurance company. They might make more money that way then selling this ring. In her mind, she didn't feel like she was doing any harm." Judging from the intense applause at the end of the film's world premiere in Toronto, the audience so far seems to agree with Payne. You can see for yourself as the film continues what will surely be a healthy run on the festival circuit (and hopefully beyond).
The two faces of jewel thief ‘Diamond’ Doris Payne Payne, 82, who has spent 60 years stealing gems, is the subject of a Hot Docs world premiere The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne. By Linda Barnard | April 27 2013 http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/movies/2013/04/27/the_two_faces_of_jewel_thief _diamond_doris_payne.html
Octogenarian international jewel thief Doris Payne was so skilled at manipulation, she even scammed one of the directors making a documentary about her life. And yet filmmakers Kirk Marcolina (Camp Out) and Matthew Pond still speak affectionately about the diamond-‐snatching diva, an elegant woman now aged 82, who has been stealing for six decades and is the subject of the new documentary The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne. “There’s no one like Doris Payne,” said Marcolina, just before the film had its world premiere at Hot Docs Friday night. It screens again Sunday and Wednesday. “I had never met a thief before Doris Payne and I was charmed by her,” Marcolina added of the woman who had 32 aliases, 11 U.S. Social Security numbers and passports in nine different names. Pond says Payne is clearly proud of her glamorous life, even if she is often working against the law; she even puts “jewel thief” down as her occupation on forms.
Payne honed her skills slowly, starting out with stores in Pittsburgh and Chicago, eventually jetting from Paris to Tokyo in the 1970s. She made a career of ripping off high-‐end jewelers like Tiffany with a mix of looking the part of a well-‐heeled, classy patron mixed with diversionary tactics, and used Town & Country magazine like a shopping list. Payne’s story is so compelling, Hollywood has come calling. A feature film starring Halle Berry is in the works. Pond and Marcolina were finishing up work on the doc, which took about three years to complete, when they witnessed the real Payne at work. They got a call from the court. Seems the woman who one judge described as being “like the terminator; she will not stop stealing,” had claimed to be with Pond on a recent afternoon when she failed to check in with her parole officer. She wasn’t. “It really put us in a moral quandary,” said Pond. “We liked Doris and we wanted to help her but she really put us between a rock and a hard place.” Pond — who had no intention of appearing in the film — decided he had to confront Payne on camera about her lie. And the resulting scene reveals the astonishing slickness of a career criminal as she tries a variety of tactics to wriggle out of the situation. It’s a fascinating display. Pond had worked to build a relationship with Payne, approaching her while she was serving time in Orange County, Calif., near Los Angeles for the theft of a coat. A recent film school grad, he had read her story in the local newspaper and figured she was a perfect subject of a documentary. Marcolina said all three of them became close. “There’s something truly lovely and sweet and fun about her.” But she’s also a chameleon, added Pond, instantly able to captivate and just as suddenly ready to switch it off. “She’s that charming old lady and when she’s in a good mood and she wants to relive some of her adventures and stories, she’s got such a joy about her there’s no one in the world I’d rather be with,” said Pond. “But that’s one Doris Payne. Then there’s the larcenous Doris, the liar, the manipulator, the belligerent, cranky old lady. And she’s all of those things.”now Now 82, Payne was born in poverty in Slab Fork, W.Va. Her father was a coal miner, yet Payne wanted more for herself, and dreamed of being a ballerina as a girl. “She wanted this big, glamorous life and somebody said, ‘There are no black ballerinas,’” said Marcolina. “And so she told us at that point, something clicked in her brain and she was, ‘Screw you, I’m going to have this big life.’ And she did,” added Pond. “She went to Paris. She went to Monte Carlo. She’s this well-‐dressed, well-‐spoken lady.” The filmmakers use an actress to recreate some of Payne’s life, explaining how she made off with some of her $2 million haul. But nobody can tell the story like Payne herself. She does so with gusto. The notoriety Payne, dubbed Diamond Doris, has received because of her criminal life may not be the kind of fame she’d envisioned, but it’s fame nonetheless. “She’s sort of achieved the American dream in a sense,” said Pond.
10 Films You Must See From This Year's Hot Docs BY PETER KNEGT | MAY 3, 2013 11:45 AM
Kirk Marcolina and Matthew Pond's "The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne" tells the remarkable story of their titular subject -‐-‐ a woman who went from a poor, single African-‐ American mother from segregated 1950s America to becoming one of the world’s most notorious jewel thieves. Doris Payne -‐-‐ now 81 years old -‐-‐ comes across as blissfully unapologetic and unusually inspirational in the film, which uses interviews with Payne (who is very charismatic) and her friends and family as well as archival footage and recreations to tell her mind blowing tale. She was a black woman traveling around the world hobnobbing in circles in Monte Carlo and Paris in high end jewelry stores. She was convincing people she was one of their ilk when in the States she had to sit at the back of the bus. In some ways, she's very much a pioneer for civil rights. And "Life and Crimes" definitely does her justice.
What’s hot at Hot Docs by Brian D. Johnson | Wednesday, April 24, 2013 http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/04/24/whats-‐hot-‐at-‐hot-‐docs-‐4/
Doris Payne, compulsive jewel thief, in 'The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne' The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne We all love a criminal with class, especially one devoted to lifting the most useless and priceless luxuries on earth. From To Catch a Thief to The Pink Panther, we’ve learned that there’s no more romantic felon than a jewel thief. From a young age, Doris Payne devoted her life to making diamonds a girl’s best friend, after escaping a childhood of strife and hardship. Filmmakers Kirk Marcolina and Matthew Pond find her at the age of 81, still unrepentant after having stolen an estimated $2 million in jewels over an illustrious 60-‐year career. Their movie offers a mischievous twist on the American Dream. Payne transformed herself from a poor black single mother in ’50s America to a glamorous, jet-‐setting con artist, who used sleight-‐of-‐hand and brazen chutzpah to lift diamond rings from counters of Cartier and Tiffany, from Paris to Monte Carlo. Posing as a high-‐ society shopper, she says she acted the part so well people didn’t even realize she was black. The film reconstructs her remarkable life with too many cheesy re-‐enactments. But as Payne goes on trial for the theft of a diamond ring from a department store, she plays the game all the way to the end with glittering authenticity.
New Film On Doris Payne -‐ International Jewel Thief & Black Woman (Not Halle Berry's Project) BY TAMBAY A. OBENSON MARCH 27, 2013 3:58 PM
Waaaay back in 2008, before S&A was born, some of you might remember the announcement (I posted it on my old personal blog, The Obenson Report) that Halle Berry had signed up to star in a project called Who Is Doris Payne, a Eunetta Boone-‐scripted, fact-‐based film about the international jewel thief, whose career spanned 6 decades, and who, by the way, happens to be black and a woman! At the time, I noted how Payne's real life story could make for a potentially riveting film, and a plump role for Halle, in the hands of the right director. For those unfamiliar with Doris Payne... in short, she began her "career" as an international diamond thief in her late teens -‐ this was in the 1940s.
Her reasons? Partly to please and take care of her mother. When I first heard about her story, I was reminded of a 2001 film called Lift, which starred Kerry Washington in a very similar role -‐ an intelligent, young, African American woman who shoplifts from upscale, high-‐end department stores, mostly to please her very critical mother. Doris Payne was caught, and has been serving time in prison -‐ successive sentences in different states where she committed theft, which will likely continue until her death. As recently as 2005, at 75 years old, she served a 2-‐year sentence in a Nevada jail, on charges that she stole a diamond ring from a Neiman Marcus store in Palo Alto, California, and sold it in Las Vegas. Following her term in Nevada, she was transferred to a prison in Denver, Colorado to serve a 4-‐year sentence for a similar crime elsewhere, and so on. From what I learned about Payne, she seems to relish this questionable, yet likely thrilling life she has led as a jewel thief for almost her entire life. Certainly, she has some regrets; but, at over 80 years old today, she's seen the world, stealing from jewelers in places like Paris, Monte Carlo, Japan and more, and lived the kind of life many of us can only dream of, given how prolific a thief she was, stealing countless diamonds, costing tens-‐of-‐thousands of dollars each, and selling them for tidy sums. What's even more fascinating about all this is that, she was able to do this for decades, as a black woman, beginning in a time in our history when black people were already under intense, conspicuous "surveillance" and scrutiny. Reading between the lines of some of Doris Payne's statements, she will likely do it all again, if she could! So what happened to the Halle Berry project? It probably died. At the time of the announcement, there was no word on when it would go into production, nor who its director would be. It's still listed on IMDB, but only under writer Eunetta Boone's page, with status unknown. I doubt it'll ever happen; and if it does, it likely won't be with Halle Berry anymore. But I plan to try and get in touch with Boone to see what she can tell us. In the meantime however, you should be aware of this upcoming new documentary on Doris Payne's life, titled The Life And Crimes Of Doris Payne, directed by Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina. Here's their summary of the feature: A glamorous 81-‐year-‐old, Doris Payne is as unapologetic today about the $2 million in jewels she’s stolen over a 60-‐year career as she was the day she stole her first carat. With Doris now on trial for the theft of a department store diamond ring, we probe beneath her consummate smile to uncover the secrets of her trade and what drove her to a life of crime. Stylized recreations, an extensive archive and candid interviews reveal how Payne managed to jet-‐set her way into any Cartier or Tiffany’s from Monte Carlo to Japan and walk out with small fortunes. This sensational portrait exposes a rebel who defies society’s prejudices and pinches her own version of the American Dream while she steals your heart. Not that I condone stealing, but I think this is an absolutely riveting story, far more interesting than some of the fiction that makes it to theaters these days; and while I'm certainly interested in seeing the documentary, I'd really love to watch a scripted narrative film, with the right talent and budget, on Payne as well. In addition to Lift (the Kerry Washington drama), the story also reminds me of Chameleon Street -‐ another film about a real life African American con. The documentary from Pond and Kirk will make its world premiere at the Hot Docs documentary film festival in Toronto next month, and will likely travel south. We'll be watching for it.
The Art of the Scam: The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne Barbara Tong, BNN Chase Producer 2:19 PM, E.T. | May 2, 2013 Web Exclusive http://www.bnn.ca/News/2013/5/2/The-‐Art-‐of-‐the-‐Scam-‐The-‐Life-‐and-‐Crimes-‐of-‐Doris-‐Payne.aspx
Bernie Madoff and Earl Jones may be the notorious fraudsters of this decade, but Doris Payne, the 82-‐year old African-‐American grandma is the undisputed international jewel thief of the century. Over the span of six decades, Payne has stolen $2 million in jewels from upscale jewelers across the world. With 32 aliases and passports in 9 different names, Payne charmed her way into Tiffany, Cartier and Bulgari in North America and Europe. Her biggest payday came in 1970 when she walked out of Cartier in Monte Carlo with a $150,000 diamond ring. Andy Bell talks with filmmaker Kirk Marcolina, director of "The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne," a film screened at the 2013 Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival chronicling the life of the legendary and charismatic jewel thief.
Hot Docs Fest – WILLIAM AND THE WINDMILL, THE MANOR, LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE HTTP://THELIP.TV/HOT-‐DOCS-‐FEST-‐WILLIAM-‐AND-‐THE-‐WINDMILL-‐THE-‐MANOR-‐LIFE-‐AND-‐CRIMES-‐ OF-‐DORIS-‐PAYNE/ EPISODE SYNOPSIS BYOD visits the Hot Docs festival to share three of the most talked-‐about films that are coming out. We speak to WILLIAM AND THE WINDMILL maker Ben Nabors and see footage of the African story of invention and self-‐ determination. Next, THE MANOR shows the story of filmmaker Shawney Cohen’s family strip club located in a 32 room motel in Canada. THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE is the unbelievable true story of a septuagenarian jewel thief, told by makers Kirk Marcolina and Matthew Pond.
LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE: How does a poor, single, African-‐American mother from segregated 1950s America wind up as one of the world’s most notorious jewel thieves? A glamorous 81-‐year-‐old, Doris Payne is as unapologetic today about the $2 million in jewels she’s stolen over a 60-‐year career as she was the day she stole her first carat. With Doris now on trial for the theft of a department store diamond ring, The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne probes beneath her consummate smile to uncover the secrets of her trade and what drove her to a life of crime. Stylized recreations, an extensive archive and candid interviews reveal how Payne managed to jet-‐set her way into any Cartier or Tiffany’s from Monte Carlo to Japan and walk out with small fortunes. This sensational portrait exposes a rebel who defies society’s prejudices and pinches her own version of the American Dream while she steals your heart.
23 Hot Docs movies reviewed Linda Barnard | April 22, 2013 http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/movies/2013/04/22/hot_docs_2013_ten_recomme nded_titles.html# An updated batch of documentary reviews from Toronto’s Hot Docs festival, which runs to May 5. The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne: “I did not think I was stealing,” says octogenarian jewel thief Doris Payne, an international sleight-‐of-‐hand robber dubbed “Diamond Doris.” But there’s far more to her story than the $2 million in jewels she palmed over five decades from Pittsburgh to Monaco. Black, raised in poverty in Slab Fork, W.V., Payne had a good reason in her mind for stealing: payback. Using Town & Country magazine like a shopping list and dressed to the nines, she ripped off jewelers all over the world. Soon to be a feature film starring Halle Berry.
This is the real life: Mini reviews of this year’s Hot Docs films CHRIS KNIGHT | 13/04/26 4:57 PM ET http://arts.nationalpost.com/2013/04/26/hot-‐docs-‐minis/
A conversation with Kirk Marcolina and Matthew Pond, Directors of The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne By Liam Volke | April 30, 2013 http://thetfs.ca/2013/04/30/a-‐conversation-‐with-‐kirk-‐marcolina-‐and-‐matthew-‐pond-‐co-‐directors-‐of-‐ the-‐life-‐and-‐crimes-‐of-‐doris-‐payne/ At first glance, there’s nothing about Doris Payne that screams “jewel thief”. But this 82-‐year old African-‐American woman from West Virginia has in fact stolen at least $2 million in jewels in a career that’s spanned five decades. I recently spoke with directors Kirk Marcolina and Matthew Pond about their new documentary The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, and their experiences working with Doris to bring her story to the screen. Doris is obviously quite an actor. Were there times when you felt you were taken in by her? Kirk Marcolina: Without a doubt. I feel like every day we’d film with her we’d be driving back home and saying, “Is she telling the truth? Is she not telling the truth?” Because you could never know when she was playing a role and making something up, never knew when she was being honest with you. For the longest time we weren’t sure. And then we got her FBI files about a year and a half into the process, and they backed up almost everything she said. Matthew Pond: Well, at least for some of the time and some of the FBI files backed her up. There were certainly things where she led us down the garden path. She’s certainly good at weaving a tale. MP: She’s a great storyteller, for sure. And that’s part of the joy of spending time with Doris. She, at this point in her life, you know she’s 82 and she has some fabulous, fascinating stories, and when she’s reliving it, she does that with a certain amount of joy and nostalgia, and it’s just a lovely experience when she’s like that. When she’s not ripping us a new one, and we’re, like, pulling all our hair out. Did that happen a lot? KM: Oh yes. MP: There’s many Doris Paynes, I think. Many different personalities within that one person. So how did you actually find out about her? MP: I read about her in a newspaper and I thought “what a great story”. It’s a perfect marriage of character and story. And I had just freshly arrived in Los Angeles and I was looking for a project, and so I went to visit her unannounced, she was in jail for another crime at the time, and did that for a few months. And when she got out Kirk and I started filming shortly thereafter.
Did it take much to convince her to do this project? MP: Yes and no. I mean, she likes the camera and I think she’s interested in having a legacy and I think she would like her legacy to be of the glamourous, international jet-‐setter. So she was interested in sharing those parts of her life. She was a little guarded with her family and the more personal aspects. But it wasn’t really difficult to coax things out of her. KM: She’s proud of what she’s done. She’s proud of being a jewel thief. And she, like Matthew said, I think she wants her legacy reported for other people to know about and she was excited by the opportunity to regale us with her stories, especially from the ’60s and ’70s when she was jet-‐setting around the world and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of rings. Do you think there’s still a sense of romanticism around the whole idea of being a jewel thief? MP: She identifies as being a jewel thief. She puts down on government forms, like, “occupation: jewel thief”. KM: She romanticizes her past certainly. I think it’s become harder for her, I mean she’s older so it’s harder for her because she’s not as quick as she used to be and it’s also harder because of the security cameras. But as the narrator in the film says, it’s a testament to her that she can just get out the door at this age without getting caught. And she is, because she’s so darn charming. She really is. I wish she could be here ‘cause you’d fall in love with her in five minutes. Everybody does.
The charming and infamous Doris Payne. What is your own creative dynamic together [as directors]? Have you done projects before? MP: No. It’s our first one. So we really were partners on this film, we produced it together, we directed it together, we did the PA work together, our VISA cards were both charged for this film. There’s a lot of room for error when there are two directors involved, because there are all these creative choices, and I think we were really fortunate in the sense that there were no big creative arguments or fights. KM: I joke with my husband that I’ve been married to Matt the last 3 years because of the film; I spend more time with him than my husband. And it has its ups and downs and the creative process is a tough process at times. But I think what’s nice about us working together is that our strengths and weaknesses are opposite in a lot of ways, we compliment each other in a way and we sort of support each other in our weaknesses. And that’s worked out really nicely. Have you ever done a project like this before? With a subject as… MP: Difficult. I mean, let’s not sugarcoat it. She was very difficult and challenging to work with.
KM: But also very forthcoming at the same time. And she would sit there–literally we have, I don’t know, over 20 hours of footage of her just talking. MP: More than 20. More than that. KM: Tons. She would sit and talk forever. And that was one of the challenges. She’d start going off on this tangent that we knew we couldn’t use and you’d try to stop her and get her on track and she’s like “no no no I gotta finish the story.” MP: And she’s calling the shots…and if there were issues or stories that she didn’t want to talk about, she made it very clear that she wasn’t gonna do it and so we kind of had to follow her lead a lot of the time. What do you think about someone who believes that they can compartmentalize their own morals from this one part of their life? Do you think it’s possible? KM: She says everybody does it. She says no one is free from doing that; she pointed out Bernie Madoff. She says everybody–look at any successful businessman. In her eyes, they did something that broke the law to get them to that point. MP: She definitely has done some mental gymnastics to get to where she is and do what she does. KM: She certainly thinks she’s a very moral person…and she’s not really hurting anyone in her eyes, because she’s stealing from these department stores that have insurance, they’re gonna get paid, anyway–they’re actually gonna make money on the deal. That’s the way she looks at it, whether right or wrong but that’s certainly how she justified herself. MP: I think if you look at Doris in historical terms, in terms of race and class, the cards were stacked against her. If she didn’t cut some corners, there’s no way this poor little black girl in West Virginia in the 1930s would’ve been able to travel the world first-‐class, staying in fabulous hotels, unless she did what she did or she won the lottery or something, so…I see her point. The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne screens at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival this Wednesday, May 1. For more details, visit the Hot Docs website.
Hot Docs 2013 Daily: Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer, The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, and Interior, Leather Bar. BY KIVA REARDON | APRIL 26TH If you want more films about strong women—and who doesn’t!—another happens to be playing today: The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne ( , 7 p.m. Scotiabank Theatre). Though Payne once dreamed of being a ballerina, racial discrimination at the time didn’t allow for her to make it on pointe. So, she turned to jewellery theft. While Payne is a feisty subject—the doc finds her living in a halfway house, facing five years in prison—Life and Crimes is a conventional courtroom drama. Go for the story, not necessarily the visuals.
ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 20, 2013
The Hot Docs Line Up Is Here; Strip Club Stories, Oil Sands Karaoke, Richard Nixon, And Lots More http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/arts-‐and-‐entertainment/the-‐hot-‐docs-‐line-‐up-‐is-‐here-‐strip-‐club-‐stories-‐oil-‐sands-‐ karaoke-‐richard-‐nixon-‐reindeer-‐herders-‐and.html
And this one sounds cool: 'The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne' is the story of an 81-‐year-‐old woman who's a jewel thief as she looks back (unrepentantly) on her life of stealing.
The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne NOW RATING: NNNN REVIEW BY ANDREW PARKER http://www.nowtoronto.com/hotdocs/2013/film-‐ detail.cfm?film=680&ref=reviews&sort=highest
The eponymous globe-‐trotting, prolific jewel thief faces a possible final reckoning after a 40-‐ plus-‐year "career." Payne exudes the charm of a sly and sophisticated grifter who looks grandmotherly at age 81, but the filmmakers constantly remind us that she's still a wily master of manipulation and sleight of hand. Her humanity comes through when she talks about her family, friends and place as an African-‐American woman who was at the top of her game during one of the country's most turbulent times racially. The ending brings it all together and comes with a pleasing sting.
Hot Docs 2013 Review: THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE is Glamorous and Mundane http://twitchfilm.com/2013/04/hotdocs-‐2013-‐review-‐the-‐life-‐and-‐crimes-‐of-‐doris-‐payne-‐is-‐ glamorous-‐and-‐mundane.html Kurt Halfyard | April 26, 10:00 am
It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to walk into a jewelry store and pull a pure short-‐con swindle. Doris Payne, now in her early eighties, remains as wiry and razor sharp as she ever was, pulling one jewel heist or another around the world as she has been for the past 60 years. Delightfully no-‐tech, she uses sleight of hand, the expectations of the clerk and a chameleon ability to role-‐play -‐ meaning she's a wonderful liar! And there is something rather magnetic (on screen anyway about a magnificent liar.) Payne has her own level of fame and notoriety in the criminal world, and even at her advanced age, is far from feeling too old to retire from her
unusual lifestyle. But the world, now bursting with technology and chain department stores featuring ubiquitous surveillance, has passed by her criminal moment. Still, there are avenues available for a fast talker and a larger than life personality, even if it is being the subject of this documentary, as well as a forthcoming Hollywood biopic. Filmmakers Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina capture Payne trying to stay out of jail and currently on trial for lifting an emerald studded piece from a Macy's department store. At one point, it appears that she may be conning the filmmakers to keep on filming in an attempt to avoid her parole officer. Nevertheless, they capture her in private interviews and in public court, as well as recreating her early years in the 50s 60s and 70s with the soft focus and sharp wardrobe of the era. These recreations add anOceans 11 jet-‐set glamour to an otherwise rather mundanely shot doc. Doris Payne, in her heyday, we are told, was decked out in pearls and designer suits with her signature round-‐lens sunglasses and jumped from Monte Carlo to Japan to London, swiping (and fencing) about 2 million dollars worth of high-‐end (but not-‐too-‐high-‐end) jewelry. Would that the film had more of these recreations in the place of interviews with a screen writer and psychologist whose talking head segments offer a little too on-‐the-‐nose commentary. Far more compelling is Payne's interaction with her earnest (and competent) lawyer, and a trial judge who is exasperated with her rap-‐sheet. Payne pleads not guilty, naturally, and insists that her past fame allows any old jewelry store to blame her when a black lady holds up the place. Doris's best friend of over 70 years is also a quite hoot with her blunt vernacular (four letter words ahoy!) which is leavened by a very genuine concern that Payne will die in prison, alone and ill, if she is incarcerated for another stint. There is a fair bit of myth making at play here, after all, Payne was an impoverished black girl who taught herself (with the help of a quite educated Jew) to swim in social circles well beyond her impoverished (and domestically violent) upbringing when America was the model of racial segregation. At the moment, Halle Berry has optioned her life story as a film and I have no doubt that it will be a delightfully embellished tale. The filmmakers here linger on the rootless existence of someone who is living in a halfway house with barely half a closet of designer-‐wear to her name and two estranged children. Doris Payne has parole officers to cater to, and is likely to be spending the bulk of her ninth decade on earth languishing in a prison cell. The mundanity of her waiting on trial lawyers and flatly lit legal proceedings is the antithesis of the swinging sixties, and that, pretty much is where we are today. Apparently, it was a good run while it lasted.
Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, The A look into the life of one of the world's most infamous jewel thieves, now 81 years old. BY CARLY MAGA http://torontoist.com/2013/04/the-‐life-‐and-‐crimes-‐of-‐doris-‐payne/ DIRECTED BY MATTHEW POND AND KIRK MARCOLINA (USA, World Showcase)
SCREENINGS: Friday, April 26, 7 p.m. Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond Street West) Sunday, April 28, 4 p.m. ROM Theatre (100 Queens Park) Wednesday, May 1, 1:30 p.m. Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond Street West) Like so many young girls, Doris Payne wanted to be a ballerina when she was young. Unfortunately, at the time, racial barriers wouldn’t allow women of colour to dance in the prestigious ballet companies of the world. So she found another way of supporting herself, and, eventually, her two kids: jewel theft. At 81 years old, Doris Payne has stolen a total of $2 million worth of diamonds and jewellery (that she admits to), but a recent robbery has her facing five years in prison, a jail sentence that would in effect be a death sentence as well. This documentary looks at Payne—now living in a halfway home, where her health is declining in tandem with her bank account—and her life as a thief. Payne is a feisty character, and her interviews make it easy to believe she conned, sweet-‐talked, and slipped her way past authorities for over 60 years. Her concerned best friend Jean is also charming. But in the end, court cases don’t make for stunning visual storytelling, and the directors overcompensate by adding in cheesy shots of jewels and dramatizations that look like ’80s glamour shots in motion. And though the film makes an effort to turn Payne into a sympathetic character, she never gets there. The audience knows from the get-‐go that the con is on.
Interview : Matthew Pond By Andrew Parker | April 24, 2013 http://dorkshelf.com/2013/04/24/interview-‐matthew-‐pond/
Doris Payne doesn’t look like a criminal mastermind. She looks like someone’s kindly old grandmother at age 79, but throughout her 60-‐plus years as a master of slight of hand and thievery, she amassed a wealth of stolen merchandise and jewellery that totalled almost two million dollars… that we know of. The subject of the highly anticipated Hot Docs World Showcase feature The Life and Crime of Doris Payneis at a crossroads in her life when approached by filmmakers Kirk Marcolina and Matthew Pond. Her family life is kind of a mess, with a son who seems to only be using her for drug money and a daughter who respectfully maintains some distance. She’s also facing a five year sentence for yet another accused jewel robbery. It wasn’t as easy for her coming up as a thief, either. She was an African American woman living in a turbulent time historically, making her cunning and survival skills almost admirable if not entirely agreeable.
It’s amazing that she was ever able to make it even that far in life. Over her globetrotting escapades that saw her stealing valuables all over the world, the FBI amassed a 2,000 page report on her. This was somewhat newsworthy to Marcolina and Pond, who had started filming before these very files arrived. It created a two year long production and a sprawling look at a woman about to face a sort of karmic reckoning. It begs the question of how late in life can someone learn a lesson. The film also asks the viewer to question Doris’ sincerity. Dork Shelf caught up with Pond over the phone, to talk about the film, his impressions of Doris, and the many twists she had in store for them while they filmed. Dork Shelf: Matthew, you first became acquainted with Doris’ story through an article that you read about her life shortly before she was due to be released from a holding facility and placed in a halfway house in 2010. What was it like trying to convince her to let you into her life? Matthew Pond: I read about her in an online newspaper. She was in jail at the time for another crime, and we couldn’t get access to her right away. The first time we met was while she was still in prison, and she was behind this partition and all that, and gave me a great big smile. I was a little nervous, at first, but she just started talking straight away. I was really surprised that she was willing to be this open with some stranger she didn’t know, but she also really wanted to see her own story told. She was guarded but it was remarkably easy. DS: Did you know right away when you were first talking to her that there was something pathological about how she operated and what was the first time you realized that she was a masterful manipulator of people’s feelings? MP: I had done my research so I knew that she was a career criminal and that she charming. There’s a lot of good and bad in what she does and how she did them. It’s good in some respect that she didn’t get caught and others where she did. When did I first figure out? That’s a good question. There’s a scene in the film where she sort of embroiled us as an alibi and put us in the middle of her own situation. DS: I was just going to ask you about that scene where she said she used you guys as an alibi for her parole officer. Did that change how you guys approached the filming at all? MP: No, it didn’t really change our approach, and I think I knew a lot of the time from the stories she was telling and how she was relaying them that she always had a way to keep us going. I knew we were being manipulated. I think you just let yourself go along for the ride you wouldn’t really have been able to convey who Doris truly was. We all wanted a film done and for her story to be told on screen. There was a kind of unspoken conspiracy between the subject and the filmmakers on this one. I guess that’s true in a way. Not to say that we’re condoning her crimes or that anything that appears on screen is scripted or manufactured. She was aware of the exposure that she was going to be getting from the film and it never really got in the way beyond that point. DS: Doris seems like a grand storyteller. Was there anything that you couldn’t use in the film because you either couldn’t verify it or because it just didn’t fit that you wish you could have kept in there? MP: Oh, yes! So many things! We got the FBI file through a Freedom of Information request, and that file contained even more outrageous stories than what she shared with us. We had a hard time in the edit trying to pull together what we thought were the best stories for the film. We didn’t have the time or the opportunity to ask her about these heists and escapes She was a bit coy about talking about how had escaped and slipped custody numerous times, which was understandable. We really had to pick and choose. She was at it for about sixty years in total, and that certainly leads to a lot of great stories to choose from.
DS: It’s also interesting seeing how Doris worked quite heavily as an African American woman at the height of the Civil Rights movement and was able to travel the world blending into her surroundings. Was that one of the things that primarily drew you into the making of the film? MP: Definitely. That’s what made her story all the more compelling, I think. The fact that she was really fooling everybody. It’s the great American dream, in a way. She wanted to be a ballerina and she was told there were no black ballerinas. She always craved that kind of life for herself. We always took a non-‐judgmental approach, but her background and the time period makes her all the more interesting. Here’s this poor black girl from West Virginia who turns into someone who hobnobs with wealthy types in Paris, Monaco, and Japan and make them believe she was wealthy enough to run in their circle if only long enough so that she can steal from them. Again, we’re not condoning crime, but there’s something that’s even at its most basic at least begrudgingly admirable and enviable about the way she operated. DS: What was it like trying to reach out to Doris’ family, specifically her kids, one of whom doesn’t want to be on camera and the other of which looks somewhat suspect in his own right? It’s interesting to see how her kids have become polar opposites of each other. Neither of them are even that much like Doris. MP: I think you’re right. Donna is the long suffering daughter who every month writes a cheque to storage place that houses all of her mother’s stuff while in she’s in jail. She loves her mother but there’s that slight sense of embarrassment there that we kind of address. Ronnie, on the other hand, has some dependency issues. We were sort of torn revealing some of that, but we got such strong reactions from him when we filmed him. I think he was high part of the time, actually, which kind of leads to that kind of behaviour and makes such an interesting contrast to his sister. But both are products of Doris’ parenting and her choices, both for better or worse. The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne screens: Friday, April 26th, 7:00pm (RUSH ONLY), Scotiabank 3 Sunday, April 28th, 4:00pm (RUSH ONLY), ROM Theatre Wednesday, May 1st, 1:30pm, Scotiabank 4
The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne Directed by Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina By Scott A. Gray | April 22 2013
Some people are so good at lying that they can make you buy a fib even when you know it's an outright falsehood. Graceful, composed and confident at 81 years of age, Doris Payne is one of those people and her knack for charismatic opportunism has been her ticket to riches for nearly sixty years. One might think that it'd be hard to pry trade secrets out of the still active African-‐American mother of two but Miss Payne couldn't be more proud of her achievements; she's one of the world's most famous jewel thieves and has been sticking it to well-‐to-‐do white folks since the days of segregation. Making it a race and class issue is how Payne justifies her actions; considering theft from the wealthy to be a victimless crime. Filmmakers Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina catch up with the utterly disarming, witty and welcoming international criminal while she's preparing to stand trail for the theft of a diamond ring from a Macy's department store. Of course, she swears up and down that she had nothing to do with this particular bit of thievery and has a bright lawyer to help her prove that claim. While the court case looms, the directors don't have to do much coaxing to get Payne's memory faucet running strong. With a perpetual twinkle in her eye, the sassy senior regales her audience with tales of the glory days she spent jet-‐setting around the globe, finding it all too easy to take whatever she set her sights on through a combination of acting and slight of hand. As noble as her original intention was – to get her mother money to escape from her abusive father – the lifestyle became an addictive game; she simply loves the feeling of superiority that comes from outsmarting people. To round out Payne's stories, the filmmakers use historical photos when possible, but mostly resort to stylized recreations of the situations being described. Being a modestly budgeted documentary, they don't try to re-‐enact any of the career criminal's daring escape stories, which sound like they'd be great material for a biopic. Unsurprisingly, Payne's life story is currently set to be made into a film starring Halle Berry, who has her work cut out for her if she's going to inhabit the devilishly charming Miss Doris Payne. Before that becomes an inevitable awards season event, don't miss this opportunity to get to know the real Doris Payne in this consistently engaging picture. Even though she won't hesitate to spoon feed B.S. to anyone when it serves her purpose, the egomaniacal rebel can't resist bragging about the truth once she's got nothing left to lose. (Treehouse Moving Images LLC)
Review: Share in 'The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne' SPECIAL By Sarah Gopaul | Apr 26, 2013 http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/348828 'The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne' is the portrait of an unapologetic jewel thief her who created her own American Dream through a life of crime. There are various types of thieves in the world. They include those who steal out of desperation, greed, desire or enjoyment. In The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, it's revealed Doris Payne may have started as the first, but she continued doing it because it was fun. Doris Payne is a career jewel thief, specializing in high-‐end merchandise. As a girl she would play tricks on jewelry store clerks to punish them for their racism (she's black), but that evolved when her abusive father became too much to bear. If it hadn't been so easy, maybe she would have stopped. But it was and she didn't. For more than 60 years Payne traveled the U.S. and Europe, stealing from luxury retailers. Now, 81 years old, she faces larceny charges for a crime committed just last year. This documentary is enjoyable because Payne is a firecracker. Even now her eyes sparkle as she recounts barely escaping arrest in Monte Carlo when she attempted to live out her own version of To Catch a Thief. Over the course of her career, she stole more than $2 million in jewelry with the largest payoff being a ring she sold for $148,000. She's proud of her history, claiming being a thief has nothing to do with her moral fibre. For Payne, stealing is akin to breathing – it just comes to her naturally. Nonetheless, stealing aside, she is a good person. She shared her profits with family and friends, and cares deeply for her two children. During a conversation she appears to be nothing more than someone's sweet grandmother. Or as one judge described her: Santa Claus' wife. But she's possessed that charm most of her life and used it to manipulate sales people. The stylish recreations of a beautiful, classy woman paint a picture of what Payne's life must have looked like all those years ago. From fascination to empathy, her insistence that she's innocent leading up to and during the trial helps the viewer connect with what would otherwise be just a legend. It's the juxtaposition of her past and present that draws in the audience. The documentary is comprised of a variety of interviews, not only with Payne but also her son, daughter, best friend, defense lawyer, an UCLA English professor, and the screenwriter adapting her story for a film set to star Halle Berry. But don't wait for the "true story" to be released – hear it from the source. The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne is screening during Hot Docs, the largest documentary film festival in North America, which runs April 25 to May 5 in Toronto.
Hot Docs 2013: ‘Doris Payne’ captures the inextricable link between its subject’s ‘Life and Crimes’ By David Fiore | April 25, 2013 http://www.soundonsight.org/hot-‐docs-‐2013-‐doris-‐payne-‐captures-‐the-‐inextricable-‐link-‐between-‐ its-‐subjects-‐life-‐and-‐crimes/ The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne Directed by Matthew Pond & Kirk Marcolina USA, 2013 The movies have taught us a great many things. How to “meet cute”. How to sing in the rain. How to squint into the sun. How to keep an eye in the frame when a juicy tear’s on the way. But perhaps most of all, they’ve revealed the tremendous allure (and symbolic expressivity) of smooth criminality. Matthew Pond & Kirk Marcolina’s film creates an unforgettable portrait of a woman whose crimes are her life – not merely in the sense that they constitute her livelihood, but ultimately in the way that her larcenous resume functions as a powerful statement of artistic intent. The documentary introduces Doris Payne as an 80-‐something woman awaiting trial for a sleight-‐of-‐ hand performance at a San Diego jewelry counter. Proud of her ongoing achievements and eager to regale the filmmakers with tales from her globe-‐trotting, rock-‐robbing past, the grandmotherly Black woman nevertheless insists that she is not responsible for the particular crime in question . The message is clear from the start: this woman is not “repentant”. She’s offended by the very suggestion that anyone could possibly catch her in the act (even with the aid of modern surveillance cameras). The film shifts deftly back and forth through the decades – providing valuable biographical, sociological and even pop cultural context for this extraordinary American life. Along the way, we
meet Doris’ lifelong friend, her current courtroom champion and her doting (and, in one case, perhaps dependent) children, with whom she had almost nothing to do until later in their lives. With Doris’ charismatic encouragement, the directors place their subject’s life in the grand tradition of Josephine Baker, Richard Wright and Miles Davis – great Black American artists who had to cross the Atlantic in order reach their full potential. In Doris’ case, mainstream inspirations like Cary Grant’s debonair Riviera Robin Hood in Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief also showed the way – and the film brilliantly conveys the audacity of her imaginative leap into those suave shoes on the other side of the segregationist divide. The Old World both applauded this woman’s stylish impersonation of moneyed mondainity and sought (for the most part in vain) to punish her for demonstrating just how closely her dexterous reach matched her grasp of the Continent’s cultural codes. The meaning of Doris’ life and crimes come startlingly into focus when she discusses her thwarted childhood dream of dancing ballet. Deprived (by oppressive racial ideology) of the opportunity to exhibit her grace on a stage, she resolved to make her mark in the world by becoming a kind of twilit Terpsichore, whose movements astonish without ever being seen. It’s a bittersweet triumph at best. The film is very clear on that point. In building a self and an artistic practice that places her physical person in constant jeopardy, Doris has become the living embodiment of opposition to an unjust (and overwhelmingly entrenched) economic and social order. Her now-‐frail (and potentially incarcerated) octogenarian form and her transcendent trickster smile display both the ravages and the rewards of intransigent rebellion. The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne makes its world premiere at the Scotiabank Theatre on April 26 (7 pm). It will also show at the ROM on April 28 (4 pm) and at the Scotiabank Theatre on May 1 (1:30 pm).
Hot Docs 2013 Overview By Basil Tsiokos | APRIL 19, 2013 ·∙ 12:01 PM http://whatnottodoc.com/2013/04/19/hot-‐docs-‐2013-‐overview/ Moving over to the non-‐competitive sections of the festival, World Showcase presents more than thirty features, including: (…) Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina’s THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE, a profile of a notorious octogenarian jewel thief.
Interview: Matthew Pond & Kirk Marcolina – The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne http://waytooindie.com/interview/interview-‐matthew-‐pond-‐kirk-‐marcolina-‐the-‐life-‐and-‐ crimes-‐of-‐doris-‐payne/ By C.J. Prince | April 30, 2013
When Matthew Pond was looking for a subject to possibly make a documentary about, he stumbled upon the story of a jewel thief in her 70s. Doris Payne, an African-‐American who grew up in a poor segregated mining town, spent over four decades of her life traveling the world and stealing things in order to make a living. Pond joined up with his friend Kirk Marcolina and started filming Doris after she was released from prison. Over the next three years Pond and Marcolina followed Doris as she told stories about her days stealing diamonds and jewels around the world while facing yet another charge for stealing. This time Doris denies the charges completely, claiming someone else committed it and that her past has turned her into a scapegoat. The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne alternates between the trial (if found guilty, Doris would face up to 5 years in prison) and Doris’ life story. On the day of the film’s world premiere, directors Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina sat down with Way Too Indie and discussed some of the doc’s major themes along with what it was like to get to know Doris. You found out about Doris’ story when you were reading articles online. What specifically interested you in her story? What made you decide to pursue making it as a documentary feature? Matthew Pond: I went to film school later in life, landed in Los Angeles and was looking for a project. I read about [Doris’ story] and it struck me as the perfect marriage of story and character, which are two big elements in any film. I drove down to Orange County and went to visit her, and we continued
seeing each other on a weekly basis for a couple of months. Then she was released and Kirk and I started filming her shortly thereafter. Kirk, when did you join on the project? Kirk Marcolina: After Matthew read the newspaper article we had lunch together and he said “Wouldn’t it be a great idea for a doc?” I said definitely, but there’s no way we’re going to get the rights to it. I think it takes a lot of courage to actually go into the jail and meet Doris like Matthew did. I don’t think I could have and so he did it. [Matthew laughs] I actually do think that because before meeting Doris I was never in a jail in my life. I never met a criminal in my life. MP: Then you went a number of times. KM: Yeah, and now I’m like “Yeah I’m going to the jail.” So yes, we talked about it early on. So did you start filming with her right after she got out of jail? MP: Yes And how long were you communicating with her before you started filming? MP: It was about three or four months I think. When you approached her was she apprehensive? Was she interested? MP: She was interested. She’s very charming and greeted me with a big smile, but she was a little guarded nonetheless. It took some coaxing. Your documentary has a very light-‐hearted tone where Doris tells these very entertaining stories about her crimes, but there’s also a dark side as well. She has a strained relationship with her kids, specifically her daughter, and she doesn’t really have anything to show after her years of stealing. Were you trying to find a way to balance the two tones while making the film? KM: I think Doris has many different layers to her character, and we wanted to portray all of who Doris is. We wanted to show the joyous, fun person who reminisces about her past and really lives in her day to day life in a positive way, but also show her manipulative side. She can be very charming one moment, and the next moment she could be stealing a diamond or setting you up as an alibi. We tried to show a complete picture of her. MP: We made a conscious decision at the beginning not to take any moral stance on who she is, what she’s done and the choices that she’s made. I think we tried to present her life and story within a larger historical context that takes into account the fact that she’s black and she was born in the segregated south. We really just tried to present the information to an audience and let them make their own decisions.
Did Doris get charged with the crime that frames the documentary while you were filming?
MP: It’s a little complicated. We filmed her for a year after she was released from jail. It’s a little complicated [to explain] but the train was already in motion for that trial, and that started about a year after we started filming. And that’s obviously the through-‐line to the film. So how did your original plans for the documentary change once the trial factored into everything? MP: We started off making a pitch tape, so we thought that we’ll film a little bit and do some interviews. We thought it was a great story, and we’ll get some funding and pre-‐sales and make the film. And then things just kept happening. Doris was going to her preliminary hearing and the main trial, so it was like… KM: We couldn’t stop. MP: It was make or break. We have to film it or lose it, so we ended up with the finished film. Two of the more interesting parts of the film were when Doris throws the two of you into her story by stealing in front of you and using the two of you as an alibi for the probation officer. MP: Kirk was adamant that we put that in right from the get-‐go. KM: We didn’t set out to make a film that we’re a part of. We really didn’t want to be a part of the film. We wanted to be objective observers. MP: We did not want that style of film. That style of film works well for Michael Moore and other people who have their voice of God narration or their own narration, but she embroiled us into the story and made us part of the alibi. At that point it was part of the story so we felt like we should [put it into the film]. It feels like you were forced to get in front of the camera. KM: Right, and we thought it also showed her character, her personality and how she manipulates people better than anything else we had shot. That’s one of the reasons why we put it in as well. You were given files about Doris’ history by the FBI while making the film. How long did it take you to go through them, and did you find anything that you didn’t know beforehand? MP: It literally took me months. Every weekend I had a laptop and I had the PDF files. I would flip between that and close it and go to work on the documentary. KM: Thousands of pages. MP: I indexed the whole thing. I don’t know…it was probably months of full-‐time work. KM: It literally was a stack. It was on PDFs but if you printed it all out it was a stack of paper. We were hanging out with Doris for about a year and we actually got these FBI papers after the principal photography was done. We were never sure interviewing her. We thought “Was she making this up? It sounds too good to be true.” MP: By definition she’s a liar and a thief. KM: Most of her stories were backed up by the FBI file. MP: We were amazed. And, in addition, there were escapes. She told us about two escapes. She escaped from custody four times which she didn’t share with us initially. KM: At least four times. Personally did you sympathize with Doris and feel bad for her during the trial? MP: We certainly felt bad that she, at 80, might be facing a 5 year sentence. KM: Certainly. I feel like there has to be some sort of punishment if she’s guilty, but it felt like a very harsh sentence. Also, and this is a bigger issue, society is paying a lot to keep her in jail. Is that really the best use of taxpayer money to keep this little old lady who, sure she steals diamonds, but what do you do with somebody like Doris? Because there’s really no good answer. It’s a feel-‐good crime story in a way. MP: There’s no drugs, there’s no violence. It feels like a victimless crime. MP: That’s how she sees it in her mind. KM: They have insurance, they’re gonna get paid, they’re actually gonna make more money than they could have sold the thing for.
So when did you decide to start doing the re-‐enactments? How did you go about nailing down the look? MP: We wanted to make some overly stylized looks and we wanted to capture some of the glamour of the 70s because we only had 3 stills [to work with]. Apart from the FBI archive we didn’t have a lot to deal with in terms of imagery for the film. We brought someone else on board because we were overwhelmed at that point with other obligations, and it also helped from a practical point of view because there were sound edits that required some visual coverage. KM: Doris likes to talk in long, long, long sentences. That’s not the best way to tell a story necessarily so we had to shorten what she said to make it more interesting. To do that there has to be a lot of edits. MP: We certainly filmed some verité things, but we didn’t want it to be dominated by talking heads. We hoped the re-‐creations gave people a sense of the time and place she was in and just mixed it up a little bit visually. Do you have any buyers or people looking into distribution? MP: We finished the film two weeks ago, and it was a mad dash to the end. Our time and energy has really been poured into getting the film here, but since it’s been on the Hot Docs website we’ve been inundated by broadcasters and sales agents. In fact we have two distribution deals that have been offered to us so we’re just going to see. We have a whole stack of meetings [coming up] and we’re just going to see how it’s received at the screenings. Hopefully we’ll find a home for it somewhere. KM: And just so you know, this was a completely independent film that was made on Matthew’s and my credit cards. You were finishing the film across the world, with one of you in the States and one of you in Australia. In a general sense, do you think the existence of things like Vimeo, Dropbox, etc. makes it possible or easier for more films and documentaries to get made? KM: With me moving to Sydney, and it’s unfortunate for the film’s sake, we couldn’t have done it without those technologies. Matthew and I were on Skype every day for hours. We would look at stuff together, and it really allowed us to collaborate even though we weren’t in the same city. It would have been better if I was still in LA but this was the best we could do. It literally would not have been possible without things like Vimeo and Dropbox. MP: We had additional editors in Paris, in Cincinnati, graphics people in New York and Philadelphia. You were living in Sydney, and I was in LA. KM: So literally it was a global post-‐production process.
I wanted to get some of your thoughts on the major themes in your documentary and how they developed throughout the course of filming, the biggest one being how Doris’ story is like a warped version of the American dream. MP: Totally, and that was a conscious effort. We used that concept in terms of telling her story. So you knew coming in that you wanted to look at it as a story about the American dream? MP: We asked every interviewee [in the film] about the American dream, does Doris fit that and in some ways she does. In fact Eunetta (one of the people interviewed in the film) summed it up nicely. She said “She pursued it with a vengeance, but it came back to bite her because she was reminded every step of the way that she’s a woman and a black woman.” So she lived two sides of the American dream I think. Watching the film it’s very difficult to condemn her. She’s committing a crime, but it has that crime movie sheen to it so it feels exciting. KM: And she’s a little old lady! MP: One of the things that really interested us is that, within that crime genre, it doesn’t fit the typical Hollywood narrative. Catch Me If You Can, a similar story based on a true guy who’s a criminal and then redeems himself and repents for his sins and goes to work for the FBI. Doris is only sorry that she got caught. For us the defiance that represents is kind of compelling and fascinating, particularly when you look at it in a larger historical context when you factor in race and class. KM: Growing up she was certainly a smart girl who knew she wanted to see the world. She says in the movie that she wanted to be a ballerina but she was told at a very early age that a black girl cannot be a ballerina. She could have pursued other options, but to her this was the way she got to fulfill her American dream. She got to go around the world, and she wouldn’t have gotten the chance to do that had she done pretty much anything else.
Hot Docs 2013: Five Capsule Reviews, including “We Cause Scenes” By John C. | APRIL 26, 2013 http://onemoviefiveviews.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/hot-‐docs-‐2013-‐five-‐capsule-‐reviews-‐ including-‐we-‐cause-‐scenes/ The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne: Although on the surface the 81-‐year-‐old Doris Payne seems like a sweet elderly woman with attitude to spare, she has made a career out of being a notorious jewel thief, taking diamond rings from high end shops. Growing up poor with an abusive father, she believes that her thievery is payback for the racism she used to endure, showing absolutely no remorse for the $2 million of product she has ripped off over the years. Directed by Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina, The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne follows her as she tells stories of daring escapes and stands trial for her final job, with an annoyingly ruthless lawyer by her side. But the title subject is interesting enough to overcome the more manipulative scenes and the overly glossy reenactments that plague the film. As it stands, this is a pretty good documentary about a woman who is described as both the hero and villain of her own story, that is worth checking out before the upcoming biopic starring Halle Berry. Friday, April 26th – 7:00 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre Sunday, April 28th – 4:00 PM @ The ROM Theatre Wednesday, May 1st – 1:30 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre
The Manor to open Hot Docs 20 March, 2013 | By Ian Sandwell
http://www.screendaily.com/festivals/the-manor-to-open-hot-docs/5053127.article Other programs at this year’s edition are the Canadian Spectrum (screening films such as Michelle Latimer’sAlias and Liz Marshall’s The Ghosts in our Machine), World Showcase (films including Matthew Pond & Kirk Marcolina’s The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne and Nebojsa Slijepcevic’s Gangster of Love) and Nightvision (showing Jeanie Finlay’s The Great Hip Hop Hoax and Michal Marzak’s Fuck for Forest, among others).
Hot Docs Unveils Full Slate MARCH 19, 2013 | 08:10AM PT | JENNIE PUNTER
http://variety.com/2013/film/international/hot-‐docs-‐unveils-‐full-‐slate-‐1200325637/ Notable pics in the World Showcase program include Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina’s portrait of an unrepentant 81-‐year-‐old jewel thief, “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne”; Victor Buhler’s “A Whole Lott More,” about an auto-‐industry facility on the brink of crisis, and sisters Rena Mundo Croshere and Nadine Mundo’s “American Commune.”
Shawney Cohen's 'The Manor' to Open Hot Docs Canadian Film Fest 8:06 AM PDT 3/19/2013 by Etan Vlessing http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/shawney-‐cohens-‐manor-‐open-‐hot-‐429693 Elsewhere, the World Showcase program has booked Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina’s The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, about an 81-‐ year-‐old jewel thief, Laura Checkoway’s Lucky,Nebojsa Slijepcevic’s Gangster of Love, and Rena Mundo Croshere and Nadine Mundo’sAmerican Commune.
Hot Docs 2013: Reviews #3
http://mechanicalforestsound.blogspot.ca/2013/04/hot-‐docs-‐2013-‐reviews-‐3.html B Y Mechanical Forest Sound | S A T U R D A Y , A P R I L 2 7 , 2 0 1 3 Reviews of screenings from the 2013 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Toronto, Canada.
The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne (Dir: Matthew Pond/Kirk Marcolina, 73 minutes, USA) "Diamond" Doris Payne has led an unrepentant life of crime — a fact that we are inclined to overlook somewhat, given her charming manner and advanced years. As we meet the 80-‐year-‐old, she's on trial for stealing a ring from a department store, and from here we flash back to learn her life story. Her brassy self-‐assurance was the ticket out of a bad marriage in the segregated South, giving her the ability to join the high-‐living jet set, if only through the avails of theft. Being able to hear Payne tell her story in her own words gives this film its spark; it's less interesting in some of the surrounding material. Tossing an academic on screen to talk about how her life situates her in the tradition of trickster figures in African-‐American literature is interesting, but doesn't feel completely organic here. And cutting from Payne telling her story to the screenwriter working on an upcoming Hollywood fictionalization of her life moves everything from biographical progression to three act character arcs and lends the whole thing the feel of being an eventual DVD extra. Still, I enjoyed this as a chance to spend time with Payne, as well as her most excellent longtime friend Jean Herbert, whose straight-‐talking manner never hid her unwavering support. I could have done with more time spent just hanging out with the pair of them. Remaining screenings: Sunday, April 28, 4:00 PM @ ROM Theatre; Wednesday, May 1, 1:30 PM @ S-‐ -‐-‐-‐-‐-‐-‐-‐-‐/Paramount 4
Hot Docs 2013: our 15 top recommended films http://thetfs.ca/2013/04/22/hot-‐docs-‐2013-‐our-‐15-‐top-‐recommended-‐films/
The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne
Doris Payne has everyone fooled: when you look at her, you see an elderly lady with great taste and style. In reality, however, she is an international jewel thief with a 60-‐year career that has netted her about $2 million. On trial for her latest heist (stealing a diamond ring from Macy’s), the film unravels the mystery behind the woman. Screening: April 26, April 28, May 1
HOT DOCS Announces 2013 Line Up
By News Division in Cinemavox ·∙ March 19, 2013 ·∙ No comments
In the World Showcase program, notable films include: Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina’s THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE, the story of an 81-‐year-‐old jewel thief’s unrepentant account of her life of crime
Documentary on Guelph strip club to open international film festival http://www.guelphmercury.com/news-‐story/2785238-‐documentary-‐on-‐guelph-‐strip-‐club-‐to-‐open-‐ international-‐film-‐festival/
There are films about dirt-bike gangs (Lotfy Nathan’s 12 O’Clock Boys), female Shaolin Kung Fu warriors in training (Inigo Westmeier’s Dragon Girls), Lapland reindeer herders (Jessica Oreck’s Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys) and an 81-year-old jewel thief who has no interest in repenting (Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina’s The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne).
THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE HOTDOCS 13 REVIEW By Christophe Chanel http://myetvmedia.com/film-‐review/the-‐life-‐and-‐crimes-‐of-‐doris-‐payne-‐hotdocs13-‐review/
The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne How does a poor single, African American woman become one of the worlds most notorious jewel thief? After spending a long career stealing and taking advantage of people, Doris Payne, now 81, is facing justice again. Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina’s world premiere documentary The Life And Crimes Of Doris Payne, takes us through Doris Payne’s life of crime. According to Doris, stealing is not a crime: “I didn’t think it was stealing, I thought, I am not giving it back, there is a difference”. The unapologetic Doris leaves behind her a trail of stolen items worth $2 million. Pond and Marcolina’s extensive archival research and candid interviews cleverly reveal how Payne managed to jet-‐set her
way into any Cartier or Tiffany’s from Monte Carlo, Paris, London to Switzerland or Japan and walk out with small fortunes. Using her natural grace and charm, she would engage the clerk, asking to see an assortment of items. Using her “Slide Hand Game” where she would look at jewelry pieces, move them around, wear them, move them some more with constant movement at a dizzying pace, then she would convince the clerk to trust her by giving back one of the missing pieces, have him look away again and then grab the one she wanted. Mind-‐ boggling. She never got caught stealing in a jewelry store. Despite numerous arrests, she escaped police custody on several occasions. This is an absolutely riveting story, far more interesting than some of the blockbuster films being released this year. Being a black woman in the 50’s, in a time when black people were under intense scrutiny and being able to pull off such a scam for so many years is incredible. Although Doris deserves what she gets, she strikes a compassionate cord. Raised in poverty in Slab Fork, West Virginia, she had a good reason in her mind for stealing: payback. She can charm anyone dressed to the nines. She is smart, using Town & Country magazine like a shopping list. She is skilled with her “Slide Hand Game” and so her designated path is to rip off jewelers all over the world. It is a profound story and both directors keep the pace quite lively, you won’t be disappointed.
Picks for Hot Docs 2013 http://jaredlorenz.com/picks-‐for-‐hot-‐docs-‐2013/ By Jared Lorenz | April 29, 2013 The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne. About an aged jewel thief. What’s not to love?
Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival 2013 Posted by MNFSTO | on April 17, 2013 http://themanifesto.ca/hot-‐docs-‐international-‐documentary-‐film-‐festival-‐2013/
THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE ,WORLD PREMIERE -‐APRIL 26, 2013 How does a poor, single, African-‐American mother from segregated 1950s America wind up as one of the world’s most notorious jewel thieves? Just ask her. A glamorous 81-‐year-‐old, Doris Payne is as unapologetic today about the nearly $2 million in jewels she’s stolen over a 60-‐year career as she was the day she stole her first carat. With Payne now on trial for the theft of a department store diamond ring, filmmakers Kirk Marcolina and Matthew Pond probe beneath her consummate smile to uncover the secrets of her trade and what drove her to a life of crime. Purchase Tickets: http://www.hotdocs.ca/film/title/life_and_crimes_of_doris_payne
Jewel Thiefs! Reindeer Herding! Sex for Trees! HotDocs Celebrates Its 20th In Style By Kurt Halfyard March 19, 2013 http://twitchfilm.com/2013/03/hotdocs-‐2013-‐announcement.html
Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina's THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE is the story of an 81-‐ year-‐old jewel thief's unrepentant account of her life of crime.
Event Preview: Hot Docs By Joanna Padovano | Published: April 24, 2013 http://www.worldscreen.com/articles/display/2013-‐4-‐24-‐rea-‐hot-‐docs-‐chris-‐mcdonald The event will open with the world premiere of Shawney Cohen’s The Manor, part of the Special Presentation program. Other cream-‐of-‐the-‐crop documentaries on the agenda include NCR: Not Criminally Responsible, which is in the competitive Canadian Spectrum category; Coffee Time, a short; and The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, a World Showcase title.
20th Hot Docs Line-‐Up Features World Premieres, Top Docs, Speaker Series http://www.mediacastermagazine.com/news/20th-‐hot-‐docs-‐line-‐up-‐features-‐world-‐ premieres-‐top-‐docs-‐speaker-‐series/1002153627/ 2013-‐03-‐20 In the World Showcase program, notable films include: Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina’s THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE, the story of an 81-‐year-‐old jewel thief’s unrepentant account of her life of crime;
Hot Docs 2013: Full Lineup By Interest By Adam Patterson | March 19, 2013 http://filmpulse.net/hot-‐docs-‐2013-‐full-‐lineup-‐by-‐interest/ WOMEN & WOMEN’S ISSUES After Tiller; American Commune; Anita; Ballerina; Buying Sex; Chi; Defector: Escape from North; Korea, The; Dragon Girls ; Eufrosina’s Revolution; Exhibition, The; Free the Butterfly; Galumphing; Gangster of Love; Gap-‐Toothed Women; Good Ol’ Freda; Julie: Old Time Tales of the Blue Ridge; Last Woman Standing; Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, The; Lucky; Maidentrip; Manor, The; Menstrual Man; New Life of a Family Album; Other Shore, The; Punk Singer, The; Pussy Riot—A; Punk Prayer; Salma; Softening; Wildwood, NJ; Women and the Passenger.
Hot Docs Review: 'The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne' http://www.cinemablographer.com/2013/04/hot-‐docs-‐review-‐life-‐and-‐crimes-‐of.html The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne (USA, 73 min.) Dir. Matthew Pond, Kirk Marcolina Programme: World Showcase (World Premiere)
"I don't take life too seriously. I'm not going to get out of it alive anyway." -‐Doris Payne Are documentary subjects eligible for acting awards? I hope so, for Doris Payne gives atour-‐de-‐force performance in The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne that is worthy of the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her story is soon to be a dramatic film, however, so pundits best keep an eye on Halle Berry when she inhabits this suave octogenarian jewel thief on the big screen. Berry has her work cut out for her, though, since I doubt anyone can play Doris Payne as well as Doris Payne plays herself. I use the words 'play' and 'performance' intentionally because even though The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne is a documentary, Payne is clearly playing to the camera with a skill for creating and inhabiting characters that she has been perfecting for years. Doris shares her art of jewel thievery with directors Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina in this terrifically entertaining story of her life as a career criminal. When the film begins, Doris is on trial for a theft she swears she didn't commit—why on earth would she still a lousy $8000 ring from Macy's when she has smuggled diamonds worth over 100 times that value? Doris insists her innocence, which seems convincing even though the sales clerk swears that an eighty-‐year-‐old black woman walked out of the store with the ring in question. Her judge likens her to The Terminator, but this petite, eloquent, and attractive lady looks like she's about to serve a plate of cookies and tell you a story. It's easy to believe Doris as she maintains her innocence while explaining her past crimes to the filmmakers. No woman with such a checkered past would dare face a jury, right? Confidence and
cunning, however, have always been the key characteristics that have set Doris apart from petty criminals. She is a woman who steals with purpose and style. Doris is a smooth operator. She is composed, articulate, and personable. How can this sweet old lady have a 2000 page FBI profile that lists 32 aliases, 10 dates of birth, 11 social security numbers, and 9 passports? Doris’s story begins with her days as a poor black girl growing up in segregated West Virginia. Doris recalls her family life as troubled, since her father abused her mother and the politics of the time didn’t make the view outside the Payne’s house any prettier. If not for the racial politics of America, Doris might have found a calling other than being a jewel thief. She could have been a model or an actress, but both occupations are certainly roles she played in the job that made her famous. It’s easy to sympathize with Doris as she explains the logic behind her first theft. She was still a teenager when she walked into a local store to buy herself a reward for a recent accomplishment. The friendly clerk was happy to oblige and he showed Doris a fine display of pretty jewelry; however, Doris notes that the clerk scuttled away immediately when a white customer walked into the store. Doris was left wearing a gold watch because the clerk didn’t want to be seen helping a black girl. Incensed and embarrassed, Doris walked to door and gave the clerk a “Says you!” She returned the watch, but she learned how easily she could make off with such goods with the right moves and the right attitude. As Doris elaborates on her cunning ways that allowed her to steal precious jewels from all over the world, her testimony reveals a complex moral logic behind her crimes. Her rationalization that the bitter racism of the times worked to her advantage offers a unique insight into the mind of the criminal. If Doris wasn’t given a fair chance at life as an African American woman, was she really out of line for working outside the rules to better herself? One could easily say yes, but Doris’s explanation of how she succeeded in conning so many folks emphasizes how frequently race seemed to be a factor. A large part of Doris’s role was presenting herself so that store clerks and security guards saw only a beautiful woman who was well-‐dressed, well-‐spoken, and well-‐mannered. It was hard to steal if a clerk was hesitant to demonstrate jewels to a poor-‐looking black girl. The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne crosscuts between Doris’s account of her checkered past and the proceedings leading up to her present-‐day trial. As Doris and her lawyer establish a decent case for her defense, though, it seems that Doris’s notorious past is bound to convict her in a courtroom. Can the guilt of someone’s past outweigh the innocence she maintains in the present? Doris is utterly unrepentant for taking the property of others. Her only regret is that she was caught. “But I was never caught in the act!” Doris is quick to proclaim. But one can see why Doris opted for a jury trial. She is a masterful storyteller and a convincing, charismatic person. She’s easily the most fascinating subject of any film I’ve seen at Hot Docs this year. Doris displays the range of mannerisms and nuanced delivery with which a great actress brings a fictional character to life. As Doris demonstrates the gestures, comportment, and elements of manipulation she would use to pull off a heist, her body language and magnetic personality pull you into her game. (Her account of the Monte Carlo caper is especially engaging.) The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne builds a fascinating character study by complementing Doris’s testimony with interviews with her children, her closest friend (a hoot!), biographers, and investigators on the present-‐day case. Pond and Marcolina also recreate episodes of Doris’s caper days using stylish re-‐enactments. All the different elements of the puzzle only add to the enigma of Doris’s character. The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne does a commendable feat of situating the audience within the psychology of a career criminal. Pond and Marcolina’s interwoven character study lets Doris present a compelling defense for her present predicament. Her insistence on her innocence also allows the audience to experience Doris’s deception first hand: by the end of the film, one realizes that Doris is pulling a con. However, even though Doris has built a life on duplicity, I found myself rooting for her all the way. She's the sweetest career criminal you will ever meet. Rating: ★★★★½ (out of ★★★★★) The Life and Times of Doris Payne screens: Wednesday, May 1 – 1:30 pm at Cineplex Scotiabank Please visit the Doris Payne Facebook page for more info on the documentary. Please visit www.hotdocs.ca for more information on films, tickets, and showtimes.
Hot Docs 2013: The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne http://www.rowthree.com/2013/04/26/hot-‐docs-‐2013-‐the-‐life-‐and-‐crimes-‐of-‐doris-‐payne/
It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to walk into a jewelry store and pull a pure short-‐con swindle. Doris Payne, now in her early eighties, remains as wiry and razor sharp as she ever was, pulling one jewel heist or another around the world as she has been for the past 60 years. Delightfully no-‐tech, she uses sleight of hand, the expectations of the clerk and a chameleon ability to role-‐play – meaning she’s a wonderful liar! And there is something rather magnetic (on screen anyway about a magnificent liar.) Payne has her own level of fame and notoriety in the criminal world, and even at her advanced age, is far from feeling too old to retire from her unusual lifestyle. But the world, now bursting with technology and chain department stores featuring ubiquitous surveillance, has passed by her criminal moment.
Still, there are avenues available for a fast talker and a larger than life personality, even if it is being the subject of this documentary, as well as a forthcoming Hollywood biopic. Filmmakers Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina capture Payne trying to stay out of jail and currently on trial for lifting an emerald studded piece from a Macy’s department store. At one point, it appears that she may be conning the filmmakers to keep on filming in an attempt to avoid her parole officer. Nevertheless, they capture her in private interviews and in public court, as well as recreating her early years in the 50s 60s and 70s with the soft focus and sharp wardrobe of the era. These recreations add an Oceans 11 jet-‐set glamour to an otherwise rather mundanely shot doc. Doris Payne, in her heyday, we are told, was decked out in pearls and designer suits with her signature round-‐lens sunglasses and jumped from Monte Carlo to Japan to London, swiping (and fencing) about 2 million dollars worth of high-‐end (but not-‐too-‐high-‐end) jewelry. Would that the film had more of these recreations in the place of interviews with a screen writer and psychologist whose talking head segments offer a little too on-‐the-‐nose commentary. Far more compelling is Payne’s interaction with her earnest (and competent) lawyer, and a trial judge who is exasperated with her rap-‐sheet. Payne pleads not guilty, naturally, and insists that her past fame allows any old jewelry store to blame her when a black lady holds up the place. Doris’s best friend of over 70 years is also a quite hoot with her blunt vernacular (four letter words ahoy!) which is leavened by a very genuine concern that Payne will die in prison, alone and ill, if she is incarcerated for another stint. There is a fair bit of myth making at play here, after all, Payne was an impoverished black girl who taught herself (with the help of a quite educated Jew) to swim in social circles well beyond her impoverished (and domestically violent) upbringing when America was the model of racial segregation. At the moment, Halle Berry has optioned her life story as a film and I have no doubt that it will be a delightfully embellished tale. The filmmakers here linger on the rootless existence of someone who is living in a halfway house with barely half a closet of designer-‐wear to her name and two estranged children. Doris Payne has parole officers to cater to, and is likely to be spending the bulk of her ninth decade on earth languishing in a prison cell. The mundanity of her waiting on trial lawyers and flatly lit legal proceedings is the antithesis of the swinging sixties, and that, pretty much is where we are today. Apparently, it was a good run while it lasted. Upcoming Screenings: Fri, Apr 26 7:00 PM | Scotia Bank Cineplex Sun, Apr 28 4:00 PM | Royal Ontario Museum Theatre Wed, May 1 1:30 PM | Scotia Bank Cineplex
Hot Docs: This Year’s Must-‐See Films BY LORI MASTRONARDI http://www.theluxelife.com/article/8463/ 2\ The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne Meet everyone’s most-‐loved jewel thief in The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne. The 81-‐ year-‐old has stolen over $2 million in jewels over the last 60 years. It probably shouldn’t be so appealing but… just see for yourself:
Hot Docs: The Life And Crimes of Doris Payne – Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina Posted by marajade29sm on April 30, 2013 http://themindreels.com/tag/doris-‐payne/
When I first read the synopsis of this film – about an 80-‐year-‐old notorious international jewel thief – I knew I would be in for a fantastic story, if nothing else. Just looking back on what this woman has seen and done in her lifetime was bound to be incredible. What I didn’t expect, however, was to fall in love with this lady and root for her happy ending so completely.
Doris Payne was born to a black coal miner father and seamstress Cherokee mother in segregated West Virginia, and learned at a young age how easy it was for her to steal – particularly from white upper-‐class people, who rarely paid much attention to her at all. Slipping into the role more completely as an adult, Doris’ easy-‐going charm and intelligent personality became some of her most disarming attributes, and helped make it possible for her to walk off with millions of dollars worth of high-‐end jewels over her more than 60-‐year career. Capturing the attention and imagination of filmmakers Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina, a film about Doris and her particularly unique method of chasing the American Dream was born. It’s evident right from the beginning that Doris Payne is a complex individual. Using photographs, documents, interviews with friends, family, and law enforcement, as well as recreations of highlights from Doris’ life – as well as convervations with the woman herself – Pond and Marcolina weave together a tapestry of images and information that’s as rich and as full of life as though they’d been alive to bear witness to it all themselves. And at the heart of it all is Doris, bringing her own creative colour and flair to the whole tale. While one can’t always be sure how much is truth, memory tainted by too many past years, and outright fabrication, one thing is clear: Doris Payne is a master storyteller. It’s her seeming genuineness and creativity that no doubt boosted her ability to make her audience believe that she was whoever she said she was, every time, all those years. Flashing her brilliant smile and pairing it with an outward calm that covers any hint of nerves she may feel inside, Doris gleefully and unapologetically recounts her grandest adventures for the cameras, the courtroom, and anyone in between who will listen. She explains her own sense of morality with such conviction that it is easy to get caught up in her spirit and sense of fun, even when she gives up a plea bargain to risk another 5 years in prison for allegedly stealing yet another ring from yet another high-‐ end boutique.
Doris continues to recount her life story as she awaits a verdict in her latest trial, and calmly allows the audience to wait with bated breath on the edge of our seats with her. We sit with her in the courtroom, and then as we wait for the jury to come back, Doris tells us more about her daring past. She is a unique and complex figure that is almost impossible to judge for, in the end, how many of us can say that we have lived even an ounce of the life that Doris Payne has carved for herself? Halle Berry isn’t set to play ME in a movie about my life, for example, but she will be playing Doris Payne. Doris, who hasn’t sat back and waited for life to deal her next hand – she has gone out and pulled her aces whenever possible. She’s paid her dues when needed (well, until she’s escaped custody again), she’s been generous with her fortune, she loves her children, and she’s travelled the world. Should she have denied herself this life, because she had the misfortune of being born into a world that would have made it impossible to have lived it any other way? Is she a bad person because she used her talents and made her own luck? Before meeting Doris on-‐screen, my answers to those questions may have been very different. But now, after having been given a fuller picture – as Doris herself says, “when the game is rigged from the start, is it unfair to cheat?” The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne has one more screening at Hot Docs in Toronto: Wed May 1st at 1:30pm
Hot Docs: There's Something About the Women...
http://tmtmshow.blogspot.ca/2013/04/hot-‐docs-‐theres-‐something-‐about-‐women.html The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne | Wed, May 1 1:30 PM | Scotiabank 4
There's something about Doris: she's fabulous, chic, a consummate liar, and a no holds barred jewel thief (the press didn't call her "Diamond Doris" for nothing!). In The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne,we learn from Doris that her introduction into stealing jewels was in reaction to the racism she endured as a dirt poor black child, whose father was abusive to her mother. Fearing for her mother's safety and armed with a "take that" attitude towards whitey, Doris stole some jewellery and rescued her mother. Realizing that she was good at her new occupation, Doris, who had always played a childhood game called Miss Lady, took her show on the road and travelled the world stealing diamonds the likes of which often graced the pages of luxury magazines such as her favourite, Town & Country. Tall, tanned (she's part Black, part Cherokee), and lovely, Doris found her "lady-‐like" mannerisms could get her into the same high-‐end, European jewellery salons as white women. She looked like a society woman, so she was accepted as one. In Europe, manners were paramount, where in the United States, black is black no matter how ladylike you actually were or pretended to be. According to Doris, she doesn't "steal" she just "doesn't give things back". Whatever you may think of Doris, you will find her fascinating. A woman, who is now in her eighties and accused of stealing, what else, jewellery, Doris was a woman who in the 50's, and 60's, was her own human rights trailblazer. She did it on the wrong side of the law, but she did it: not even jail stopped her, as she lively recounts to directors (Matthew Pond, Kirk Marcolina). As a screenwriter in the film says, Doris is "the protagonist and antagonist" of her own life, while another references the fact that Doris' halo sits on top of her horns. What a woman!
Hot Docs 2013 -‐ Wrapping Up The Rest (Belatedly)
http://eternalsunshineofthelogicalmind.blogspot.ca/2013/06/hot-‐docs-‐2013-‐wrapping-‐up-‐rest-‐ belatedly.html The Life And Crimes Of Doris Payne -‐ One of the most disappointing films of the fest for me. The story of Doris Payne sounds fascinating -‐ a 60 year life of crime stealing jewels without ever using violence or fear tactics -‐ but the film doesn't serve it well at all. Told mostly via talking head interviews and several flat recreations, it never trusts its story. In order to validate that this is indeed an interesting person and life, the film keeps coming back to an interview with a screenwriter who is turning Doris' life into a movie script. Unfortunately, the screenwriter never says anything of interest herself and leads you to believe her treatment of the story will be abysmal. As well, the film never has a minute where there isn't background music (what sounded like pretty cheap stock music to me) playing behind the interviews and story. Every moment is filled with a specific music to make sure you know how to feel. It turned me off almost completely and I eventually even came to dislike Doris by the end. In other hands this might have been a barn-‐burner.
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