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Sundance 2024: Netflix Buys ‘Ibelin,’ Documentary About Late Norwegian Gamer, in One of Festival’s First Sales

Netflix has acquired “Ibelin,” a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Benjamin Ree (“The Painter and the Thief”) directed the film, which centers on a Norwegian gamer named Mats Steen, who died of a degenerative muscle disease at the age of 25. According to the official logline, “his parents mourned what they thought had been a lonely and isolated life, when they started receiving messages from online friends around the world.”

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“Many of my favorite documentary films and series of all time have been distributed by Netflix,” Ree said in a statement. “It’s a huge honor that Ibelin will now be on Netflix and Mats Steen’s story will be available to so many millions of people across the world. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Before the film’s premiere, Ree told Variety he hopes that “Ibelin” portrays the video game community in a positive light.

“This film is honoring the gaming community, he said. “That’s what we are trying to achieve here. We hope that it will feel like that for the gamers around the world.”

Ingvil Giske for Medieoperatørene produced the film in cooperation with Norway’s VGTV. The deal was negotiated by Salma Abdalla and Jason Resnick of Autlook Filmsales on behalf of the filmmakers.

In Sundance’s past, Netflix has shelled out to land “Fair Play,” a tense workplace drama that sold for $20 million, as well as “Run Rabbit Run,” a thriller starring Sarah Snook of “Succession” fame.

Sundance’s 2024 edition kicked off on Thursday. The documentary “Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story,” Kristen Stewart and Steven Yeun’s sci-fi romance drama “Love Me,” and Steven Soderbergh’s latest twisty thriller “Presence” are among the films trying to make a splash and spark bidding wars among distributors.

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