The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne

(USA, 2013, 73 mins)

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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.

Stylish 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. (Myrocia Watamaniuk)

"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, international criminal." Scott A Gray, exclaim

"4 stars, Must See!" Now magazine

“Is The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne Essential Hot Docs Viewing? Absolutely. You won’t find a more charming, befuddling subject of a film at this year’s fest.” Kristal Cooper, Toronto Film Scene