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Die Kleinen Bankräuber (Mazie laupitaji)
Latvia/Austria 2009

Opening 14 Oct 2010

Directed by: Armands Zvirbulis
Writing credits: Maris Putnins
Principal actors: Gustavs Vilsons, Zane Leimane, Arturs Skrastins, Juris Zagars, Karl Markovics

Robby and Louise Abolin (ages five and seven, respectively) accompany their parents to the Credo Bank for some bad news: they will be evicted from their apartment because they can’t pay the mortgage. The children notice that stacks of dollar bills are carted into the bank. That’s not fair: they are poor and the bank is rich. What would Zorro do under such circumstances? The whole family moves to the countryside to live with the grandparents on their farm. There, in the hay loft, the children quite fearlessly plan to rob the bank, after all “children aren’t sent to prison.” They make it look easy, so that you wonder why more children are not hanging around banks to pick up a few dollars. They say, “Nobody will notice us. After all, we are just normal little children, and there are lots of us around the world.” Five of the bank’s employees including the director are involved in a counterfeit scam; therefore, they must retrieve the stolen false money before the children distribute their stolen goods and the crime is revealed. However, the bad guys find themselves quite out of their milieu on the farm, unable to cope with smart children, a brilliant grandfather, and cud-chewing livestock.

This wonderful film by Armands Zvirbulis is an Austrian-Latvian co-production which has played at several film festivals, winning the audience prize for best film in Munich. It has all the ingredients to delight six- to ten-year-olds: fairy-tale countryside, gangsters with guns, and a sweet little mouse with a taste for counterfeit dollar bills. It is successful without the aid of cartoons, aggressive advertising, or 3D. It tells a good, old-fashioned story with personable, talented actors, and I highly recommend it. (Becky Tan)

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