NEON has purchased the world rights to Benjamin Ree’s documentary “The Painter and The Thief,” as reported by Deadline.
The film celebrated its world premiere at the Sundance film festival this year, receiving huge critical acclaim and winning the Special Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary. Produced by Ingvil Giske and executive-produced by Academy Award winner Morgan Neville (“Twenty Feet from Stardom”), the documentary tells the story of an unlikely friendship between an artist and a thief that stole one of her paintings.
Two paintings by Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova are stolen from an art gallery in Norway, with the thieves quickly identified but the paintings nowhere to be seen. In an attempt to learn exactly what happened to them, Kysilkova reaches out to one of the thieves, Karl Bertil-Nordland. What starts as an attempt at finding the truth becomes an unexpected friendship that spans years after Kysilkova begins painting Nordland.
The documentary has been praised in particular for its use of different perspectives, with the story being told from both Kysilkova’s and Nordland’s points of view. This allows audiences to grasp the motivations behind each person and gain insight into their vulnerabilities and lives.
Norwegian director Ree had previous success with his first Documentary feature film “Magnus” in 2016, which picked up the Ray of Sunshine award at the Norwegian International Film Festival that year.
NEON made history at this year’s Academy Awards when Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” won four awards and became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture. The distribution company was founded in 2017, with the Tonya Harding biopic “I, Tonya” being the company’s first big success. Allison Janney won an Oscar for her performance in the film, which nabbed three nominations in total.
“The Painter and The Thief” isn’t the only awards hopeful that NEON has slated for a 2020 release. They will also be distributing the Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan romantic drama “Ammonite,” Andy Samberg’s “Palm Springs” and Josephine Decker’s “Shirley” starring Elisabeth Moss and Michael Stuhlbarg.