Norsk filminstitutt

The documentary film "A New Kind of Wilderness " won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary, while "Ibelin" received The Directing Award and The Audience Award in the same section. The feature film "Handling the Undead" won Special Jury Award for Original Music in The World Cinema Dramatic Competition. This makes this year's awards ceremony the best ever for Norwegian cinema at a major festival. 

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Happy award winners. From left "Ibelin"-director Benjamin Ree, "A New Kind of Wilderness"-producer Mari Bakke Riise og director Silje Evensmo Jacobsen. Photo: Sundance Film Festival. 

The awards were presented in Park City, Utah, in a ceremony on Friday, with the Norwegian winners present in the auditorium. 

 "It's completely wild, we are so grateful and proud! That a close and personal film receives this recognition means everything," says " A New Kind of Wilderness " director Silje Evensmo Jacobsen. 

 "This was absolutely fantastic! We would like to dedicate this award to Mats 'Ibelin' Steen. It will stand together with his picture at his parents Robert and Trude's home. We hope the film will reach as many people as possible, and create discussions and inspiration all over the world. Such an award helps the future life of the film and increases the likelihood that it will be seen by more people. We are incredibly grateful and happy for this," says Benjamin Ree, director of "Ibelin." 

Golden Age for Norwegian Documentary Film 

"We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Norwegian documentary film is in a golden age. The quality is world-class, and the fact that both "A New Kind of Wilderness " and "Ibelin" won awards at Sundance is testament to this. Not only have they been carefully selected to the festival - they also took home three awards to Norway! We are incredibly proud of the teams behind the films and the directors Benjamin Ree and Silje Evensmo Jakobsen, and to composer Peter Raeburn for his work with the music for "Handling the Undead," says Kjersti Mo, director of the Norwegian Film Institute. 

A New Kind of Wilderness 

The documentary film "A New Kind of Wilderness" by director Silje Evensmo Jacobsen takes place on a small farm surrounded by spruce forest where a family that has made an unconventional choice lives - Maria and Nik and their four children grow their own food, practice homeschooling, and co-sleep. They want to spend their time being together, living close to nature, becoming self-sufficient, and free. Maria, the mother of the family, is a photographer and documents the life project through words and pictures on the website wildandfree. But then tragedy strikes them, and the world they know is turned upside down. Reluctantly, the family must change their lifestyle and become part of modern society again. 

" A New Kind of Wilderness " has received 1.7 million NOK in development and production grants from the Norwegian Film Institute. 

About the Double Winner "Ibelin"

"Ibelin" is about the gamer Mats Steen who died of a muscle disease at the age of 25. His parents mourned what they thought had been a lonely and isolated life, when they suddenly began to receive messages from Mats' online friends from all over the world. The film recreates the rich life of Mats' avatar "Ibelin" in the gaming world. Everything is based on real events and dialogues, taken from role-playing in World of Warcraft. 

The documentary is directed by Benjamin Ree, whose previous film "The Painter and the Thief" in 2020 was the first Norwegian-registered documentary film in the main competition at Sundance. There, Ree won the Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling. For the 2024 festival, Ree's new film "Ibelin" was invited to be shown at the traditional cinema The Egyptian on the opening day and has now won two awards. 

The film is produced by Ingvil Giske for Medieoperatørene and will have its Norwegian premiere in March 2024. It has received 4.2 million NOK in development and production grants from the Norwegian Film Institute. 

Handling the Undead 

The feature film "Handling the Undead," directed by Thea Hvistendahl, is a magical realist love story about accepting what we cannot control. The film reflects on life, death, human relationships, and nature. Genre wise, it is's somewhere between drama and art house horror. It is based on a script and a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who made his breakthrough with the also filmed horror novel "Let the Right One In." 

The cast includes Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie, among others. This is Hvistendahl's feature film debut, but she has previously directed the hybrid film "The Monkey and the Mouth," among other works. Hvistendahl has previously received a grant from the NFI to develop "Handling the Undead" and has also participated in NFI's talent program earlier. "Handling of the Undead" has received 12.5 million NOK in development and production grants from the NFI. 

"Handling the Undead" is the opening film in the main competition at the Gothenburg Film Festival tonight, Friday evening. 

Two Awards for a Co-production 

In addition, the Norwegian minority co-production "Girls Will Be Girls," with Eleonore Anselme and Hummelfilm as Norwegian producers, won the "Special Jury Award for Acting" and the "Audience Award" at Sundance. The film received 500,000 NOK from Sørfond in 2022. The main producer is Indian Crawling Angel Films LLP. The script and direction are by Shuchi Talati.