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King of Thieves
King of Thieves
Actor: Lazar Ristovski; Iakov Kultiasov; Katharina Thalbach; Julia Khanverdieva; Oktay √?zdemir; Paulus Manker; Birol √?nel; Imogen Kogge; Yasemin Bueyueksapci; Manfred Witt; Viktor Benzler; Axel Neumann; Motamedi; Lucia Adyova; Petra Hackova; Jan Tancos; Martin
Director: Ivan Fíla
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2006     1hr 41min

Two amateur circus kids from a poor Ukrainian village, ten-year-old Barbu and his older sister Mimma, are sold to a circus artist called Caruso who promises them a career in the West. Caruso smuggles them to Berlin and sep...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Lazar Ristovski; Iakov Kultiasov; Katharina Thalbach; Julia Khanverdieva; Oktay √?zdemir; Paulus Manker; Birol √?nel; Imogen Kogge; Yasemin Bueyueksapci; Manfred Witt; Viktor Benzler; Axel Neumann; Motamedi; Lucia Adyova; Petra Hackova; Jan Tancos; Martin
Director: Ivan Fíla
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Picture This
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/02/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 41min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: German, Russian
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Childhood Dreams and Fantasies/Adult Recriminations and Real
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"'Koenig der Diebe' ('King of Thieves') is a powerful indictment dealing with child slavery in the German marketplace. The subject is a tough one to watch but the writing, direction, acting, scenic design, and production of this brilliant film is so incredibly fine that is commands attention.

The story is a contemporary one, opening in The Ukraine where 10-year old Barbu (Iakov Kultiasov) and his 13-year old sister Mimma (Julia Khanverdieva) are staging a simple but really fine circus in the dusty little town center. Obviously living in fantasy of circus life, they greet the scrubby but congenial Caruso (Lazar Ristovski) as he rides into town tossing candy to the kids. Caruso is an ex-circus owner who is now in the trade of child trafficking and when he sees the buoyant and irresistible Barbu he decides to 'buy' him from the father. Barbu is thrilled but insists Mimma go with him to 'join the big circus' in Berlin: the father consents (accepting money for the purchase of his children) and the three drive off to their new destinies. Barbu and Caruso bond despite the language barrier - Caruso speaks German, Barbu speaks Russian, but they manage to communicate on certain levels. At the Ukrainian/Slovakian border Caruso is stopped and the children he has gathered disperse (Caruso promises to meet Barbu in Berlin and bring Mimma with him). Barbu sets out across country and eventually arrives in Berlin, full of hopes and fantasies ('I am Barbu, King of the Circus'), only to discover through his new found friend, Albanian boy Marcel (Oktay Ozdemir), that the 'circus' Caruso runs has no audience, but instead is a 'school' for teaching children how to steal to support him.

Caruso lives in a circus tent with a shaved-headed woman Julie (Katharina Thalbach) who is addicted to drugs administered by Caruso to relieve her constant pain (we learn that her pain comes from a trapeze act accident when Caruso failed to catch her resulting in a traumatic fall). Also in the 'circus' are two thugs who police the activities of the boys' thefts. The ever-optimistic Barbu still imagines he will be the king of the circus but is appalled as he gradually discovers the realities of the life of thievery, crime, and most of all that Mimma has been sold into prostitution to a loathsome cruel pimp Kardinal (Paulus Manker). This discovery pushes Barbu to acts of theft to gain money to buy back his sister, but the obstacles he meets along the way emphasize the incredible brutality and cruelty of Caruso and his cohorts. The manner in which the film ends is best left to the viewer to discover, but it is one that will make an indelible imprint on the psyche and heart of those fortunate enough to see this work of art.

Ivan Fila, born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, is a gifted writer and director. Despite the heart wrenching story matter, he allows us to see all sides of the child trafficking business - including the bonding among the children and the transient feelings of power and success as they learn 'new trade'. The actors in this drama are absolutely extraordinary: few child actors can match the performance of Iakov Kultiasov as Barbu, and this is his first experience at acting! The set decoration, lighting, costumes, scenery, cinematography, and musical score by Michael Kocab are as atmospheric as anything ever filmed! KING OF THIEVES is an amazingly fine film, but audiences should be warned that it has moments of violence that are difficult to watch. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, June 06
"Oliver Twist" Redux
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 07/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

""King of Thieves"

"Oliver Twist" Redux

Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride

The story of "Oliver Twist" has inspired several modern adoptions including "King of Thieves" (Picture This Entertainment). The film was the official submission to the 2005 Academy Awards for best foreign film from Slovakia and has won other major awards.
Barbu, a ten-year old adorable boy lives with his family in a small village in the Ukraine. Coming to town regularly is Caruso who offers to buy children from their parents. He promises a great future in the Western world as members of his circus. He manages to get Barbu to go to Berlin with him. Barbu and the circus are not a good fit so Caruso hands him over to a group of crooks who teach children how to steal. If he kids do not steal enough or keep part of the loot for themselves, they are punished. Barbu seems to have found his place and is determined to become the "King of Thieves". While Barbu is honing his skills, Caruso buys his sister and sells her to a whore house in Berlin. Barbu now has the goal of rescuing his sister and setting her free.
The acting and the subject matter of "King of Thieves" is absolutely amazing and give the film a feel of reality. The film is a powerful indictment against child slavery and this makes it a difficult film to watch but a necessary one. The fact that it is contemporary makes it important. Watching Barbu transition to be the king of thieves is heartbreaking. The ending of the film will leave a mark on you that will stay for quite a long time.
Ivan Fila does an incredible job of directing. He shows us the insides of child trafficking and the bonding among the children and their transient feelings of power as they learn how to steal. Everything about the film is the best it could be. The beauty of the characters and the opposing ideas of darkness and light, sourness and sweetness, good and bad and hope and despair are all depicted with a stroke of genius. The actors are newcomers and they are brilliant.
From the very start there is an aura of both joy and doom. Caruso is a "creep" but his acting is stupendous and he is memorable--even when he emotes too much.
Iakov Kultiasov as Barbu is one of the most memorable movie roles I have ever seen. He had a formal background of circus life and then suddenly became an actor. He is able to change moods and outlooks quickly and plays his role with a charm unexpected to be seen in one so young.
Full of crime and excesses, the movie will make you sit up and notice. It is like looking through a window into the darkest regions of human nature and the brightest moments as reflected in Barbu's eyes.
The cinematography is stunning and it goes where many others would not dare. The story will not leave you for a very long time. The brutality and the beauty of the movie are believable and sad. Everything is balanced perfectly and it all sits on a fragile and obvious hinge.
Good film
Centro de Encontro | Netherlands | 07/22/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Very good film about childtraffic in Europe. It happens also in Germany not only in Africa or Asia that is the most important message. The main player in the movie is very convincing."