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Neon Acquires Norwegian Art Documentary ‘The Painter and the Thief’

Benjamin Ree directs film that won World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling at Sundance 2020

Neon has acquired the worldwide rights to “The Painter and the Thief,” a documentary from Norwegian filmmaker Benjamin Ree that won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling prize when it premiered at Sundance earlier this year, Neon announced Monday.

“The Painter and the Thief” follows an extraordinary story of friendship, art and human connections. When two paintings by Czech naturalist Barbora Kysilkova are stolen from an Oslo art gallery, the thieves are quickly identified though the paintings are nowhere to be found.

Hoping to learn what happened, Barbora reaches out to one of the thieves, Karl-Bertil Nordland, asking to paint him. What follows over a series of portraits and many years is an unlikely friendship. Using a structure that cleverly shifts perspectives, Ree unfolds the fraught lives and vulnerabilities of two souls who come to recognize themselves in the other.

“The Painter and the Thief” was produced by Ingvil Giske and executive produced by Morgan Neville.

Jeff Deutchman negotiated the deal for NEON along with Salma Abdalla from Autolook on behalf of the filmmakers.

Neon has already scooped up a number of hot titles, both features and documentaries, including Matt Wolf’s “Spaceship Earth,” the Elisabeth Moss thriller “Shirley” and the Andy Samberg comedy “Palm Springs,” with whom they partnered with Hulu on the record-breaking sale. Neon is also behind the historic Best Picture win for Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite.”