Thieves By Law

( Germany, Israel / 2010 )
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Made famous by the feature film Eastern Promises, former heads of Russia’s criminal underworld, the vori v zakone, (Thieves By Law) share their story for the first time. The thugs who transformed into reputable businessmen reveal how they came to influence Russia's economy as it emerged from decades of Soviet rule, and how they used their vast wealth to build up a political base in a land that once treated them as common criminals.
Formats: Digital Copy, DVD
Running Time: 91 min.
Theme: Crime, Current Affairs, Investigative Journalism, Law and Justice, Russian Cinema and Culture, Society
Language(s): Russian
Subtitles: English
Director(s): Alexander Gentelev
Producer(s): Simone Baumann, Sasha Klein, Maya see all »
Cinematographer: Sergi Freedman
Editor(s): Alik Baskin, Martin see all »
Excluded regions: Canada


  • "Simultaneously hilarious and horrific, Alexander Gentelev's extraordinary docu Thieves by Law offers a clear, concise and shockingly candid account of Russian gangsterism as told by the shamelessly high-living, self-contented crooks themselves."
    Variety Review
    Ronnie Scheib
  • "The underworld situation in Russia is so unique, and so surreal, that audiences everywhere should take to the material."
    Screen Daily
    Howard Feinstein
  • "What makes the film truly astonishing is that director Gentelev’s was given the opportunity to closely follow and film these notorious figures nearly uninhibited."
    NBC LA
    Tim McGonagle

Festival participation

  • Tribeca Film Festival
  • HotDocs
  • Docaviv

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Additional Info

Production Company: SMS Productions
Distribution Company: Cinephil- World Sales

Thieves By Law

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