Jewel thief steals the scene

Jewel thief steals the scene
Life and Crimes of Doris Payne
Film-maker Kirk Marcolina, Doris Payne and director Matthew Pond. Doris Payne’s fifty years of crime are captured in a documentary titled, Life & Crimes Of Doris Payne.

SINGAPORE - In her 80s, she looks like a kindly and stylish grandmother but Doris Payne is no docile homebody. The American has stolen about US$2 million (S$2.5 million) worth of jewellery in crimes spanning five decades. There is even a movie about her in development with Hollywood star Halle Berry attached to the project.

When Matthew Pond, 42, first read about her in the newspaper in 2010, he was intrigued. It led to weekly visits to an Orange County jail where she was serving time for theft.

Eventually, he and fellow film-maker Kirk Marcolina, 43, made a movie tracing her journey from poor African-American woman to glamorous international criminal.

The Life & Crimes Of Doris Payne is part of the line-up of the second edition of the Endeavours Documentary Film Festival. It takes place at The Arts House from May 14 to 18.

The 10 films to be screened include Lotfy Nathan's 12 O'Clock Boys (2013), about a dirt bike gang; Benjamin Turner and Gabe Turner's The Class Of 92 (2013), featuring some of football club Manchester United's biggest names such as David Beckham and Ryan Giggs; and Kerry Candaele's Following The Ninth: In The Footsteps Of Beethoven's Final Symphony (2013).

Last year, the festival attracted more than 750 filmgoers.

For the Doris Payne movie, Pond tells Life!: "Kirk and I decided to make a film that was fun and entertaining. We wanted to tackle some serious issues - segregation, racism and crime - but we didn't want to hit people over the head with it. Because Doris, at her core, is a fun, lively, charismatic person, we wanted the film to reflect that."

Working with such a subject had its challenges.

On the one hand, the actress in Payne was happy with the attention. On the other hand, Pond notes: "Because she is a career criminal, she's naturally cautious and a little manipulative. She would share the information very sparingly."

Often, the film-makers would wonder if they were being taken for a ride.

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