TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


Petty Thieves

Mate Ugrin


Rio is a young loner from a village in Istria, Croatia, who makes a living as a kitchen helper in tourist resorts on the coast. In his free time, he is devoted to helping his grandparents Lorena and Fausto, by whom he was raised. When Lorena decides to move her husband Fausto, who suffers from dementia to a nursing home and give a chance to a new man in her life, tension in the family rises up. Rio, who has difficulties articulating his dissatisfaction, but also his desires and needs, finds escape in petty thefts which bring him excitement and adrenaline rushes.
One evening Andrea, a seasonal worker from Serbia, notices Rio stealing at the beach. She needs some easy money to make a change in her life, so she suggests helping him out with thefts in exchange for a share of the profits. As the two spend time breaking into bungalows and hotel rooms looking for jewellery and money, they get very close and a magical bubble encompasses their friendship. But the tourist season is slow and it isn’t long before Andrea gets fired and decides to leave for Germany.
The power of their short but beautiful connection gives Rio some new insights, after which things will never be the same again.


My motivation for making this film is my connection to the Istrian peninsula, where I grew up and which has been radically transformed to accommodate mass tourism. In Petty Thieves I seek to portray a community whose infrastructure and activities are completely subordinated to touristic needs. During summer, seasonal migrant workers flock into the community but are not able to integrate into it. With this film, I am drawing from my own experience of migration, accompanied by inevitable attempts at assimilation in new surroundings. At the same time, I want to show how the main characters of the film fight against the existing living conditions and try to articulate new perspectives and forms of togetherness. In order to achieve a high degree of realism, I will work with non-professional actors from the region, who have similar experiences as the fictional characters in the film, and the screenplay will be further developed together with the cast, by implementing their own experiences.

Rio is a petty thief on the Adriatic coast. Andrea becomes his partner in crime. Everything changes.
Mate Ugrin

Film Director

production notes

original title
Sitni lopovi

produced byFünferfilm
Otzenstr 12
22767, Hamburg

Zagreb - Croatia

in co-production with
In the cut - France

total production budget
€ 1,200,000.00