‘Ibelin’ Documentary About Norwegian Gamer Mats Steen Acquired by Netflix

Sundance 2024: Film premiered at the festival as part of the World Cinema Documentary Competition

Ibelin Netflix
Mats Steen appears in Ibelin by Benjamin Ree, an official selection of the World Documentary Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Bjørg Engdahl.

Netflix has acquired the documentary feature “Ibelin,” which premiered at Sundance on Thursday, the streamer announced Friday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Ibelin” centers on Mats Steen, a Norwegian gamer, who died of a degenerative muscular disease at the age of 25. His parents mourned what they thought had been a lonely and isolated life, when they started receiving messages from online friends around the world.

The documentary film premiered at the festival as part of the World Cinema Documentary Competition.

The film was directed by Benjamin Ree (“The Painter and the Thief”). Ingvil Giske produced the documentary for Medieoperatørene in co-production with Norway’s VGTV.

“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.”

In her review of the film, The Wrap’s Lex Briscuso wrote, “Ree’s magnificent documentary takes its audience not only through the tragic elements of Mats’ life—the diagnosis of his illness, his decline, his untimely death—but the good parts, too, through effective testimony and powerful archival images, audio and video. Mats was well-known within the expansive gaming world of WoW as Ibelin, a burly and handsome private investigator who would strike up a conversation with anyone he met.”

This marks Netflix’s first acquisition at this year’s festival which is celebrating its 40th edition.

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