– Great story – VG

New major project: Director Benjamin Ray is working on his upcoming documentary. Here he is with producer Ingviel Gesek (right) and artist Barbora Kiselkova on stage after winning the Amanda Award in the “Best Norwegian Film” category at the Amanda Awards Gala in Haugesund.

Award-winning director Benjamin Rey, 32, will produce a film about the life of late “World of Warcraft” player Mats Steen. Mats was in a wheelchair, but lived a free life through a computer game.


It’s the film industry magazine reports diverse.

The documentary “Ebelin” is named after the “World of Warcraft” avatar of Mats Steen (1989-2014), who died at the age of 25 from Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) — a rare genetic disorder that causes muscle wasting in boys.

After his son’s death, Mats’ parents discovered that for the last ten years of his life he had been living a meaningful life on the Internet and that he had friends all over Europe. When Mats died, these friends lit candles for him.

– It’s a very cool story, says director Benjamin Ray on the phone for VG.

The film, which will be ready for cinema next year, is being produced by Media Operators in a co-production with VGTV. It is supported by the Norwegian Film Institute and Free Ord.

Hidden friendship: The parents were worried about what they thought was their son’s escape in computer games. After Mats Steen’s death, his parents discover that his online life has given him a rich life.

international success

Ree, who usually works at VGTV, Received international recognition With “The Artist and the Thief”.

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The documentary depicts the extraordinary friendship between Oslo-based Czech artist Barbora Kiselkova and Karl Bertil Nordland after the latter was implicated in the theft of two of her paintings from an exhibition in Frogner in Oslo.

The Artist and Thief won the Creative Storytelling Award during the prestigious Sundance Festival, as well as three Amanda Awards and a Film Critics Award.

Producer: Director Benjamin Rey while working on “The Artist and the Thief.”

Ray came up with the idea for his new movie “Ebelin” after reading one of them NRK . article About the life of Mats.

– NRK wrote one of the best articles I’ve ever read about mats. At first I thought the story was not visual. Then I called his family and realized they had filmed 50 hours of Mats’ entire life, says the director.

– The family cared a lot and what happened in the game was recorded. World of Warcraft players role-play with text and diary writing in the game. It allows me to recreate the actual events in the animation.

Recreates Avatar Life

The director has been working on the project for two years and has traveled all over Europe and met many of the boy’s friends who are making a movie about him.

– What makes “Ibelin” so extraordinary is that we can recreate the life of a real avatar. As far as I know, it has never been done this way before in a documentary. We can recreate what happened in real life in the gaming world.

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Becomes a movie: In “The Stars Shine in the Night,” Robert Steen talks about his son, Mats. After the son’s death, the parents find out that Mats lives a good and free life in the game “World of Warcraft”. There, the boy – who relied on the use of a motorized wheelchair – could run, joke, flirt, rest and talk to friends from all over Europe.

Oslo city councilor Robert Stein, in collaboration with freelance journalist Halger Obedal, has written the book “At Night the Stars Shine. The story of our son Mats »about the son. the book Got a 5 dice roll in VG.

The title plays on the name of the Starlight group “World of Warcraft”, on which Mats played.

The last two pieces to be put into place are that Mats wrote a blog before his death about his whole life. And so, Benjamin Rey has his point, too.

– In addition, VGTV filmed his funeral in 2014. Until the end is documented.

– Who are the friends he found in the game world?

– It’s a fairly diverse group. The gender balance is equal, most of them are between 20 and 50 years old.

Breaking new boundaries

Ebelin will differ from the NRK article on a key point, says the director:

– The article is about what the gaming world has done for Mats, while I focus my attention on what he has done for her. What he meant for his gaming friends.

He can’t reveal more, but Rey says he’s looking forward to working on the project full time.

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– After «The Artist and the Thief, I wanted to do something completely different. This is really something completely different. Much of the film will be animated to take the audience on the journey that Matt’s life was.

International Fame: Benjamin Re was filmed in New York in 2016 when he was at the Tribeca Festival with the movie “Magnus” about chess player Magnus Carlsen.

VGTV Editor Rolf Sønstelie gets praise for the project:

With this movie, Benjamin and VGTV will break new boundaries. Sonesterly says it will be a very different visual narrative than what you’ve seen before in documentaries.

The story is emotionally powerful and thought provoking. Much of it will be told in the world of animation in which Mats lived most of his life. We think the film has more potential internationally than artist and thief, and that says a little.

Fashionable mats in kindergarten

Mats Steen and Benjamin Ray were born in 1989, just seven days apart. When he looked at the Steen’s family video material, Ree thought it was something familiar with a kindergarten boy. Suddenly it became clear to the director that he himself plays Mats when they were one year old.

“I knew our parents had met each other and I knew his uncle well, but it was very strange to experience it, admits Ray, who has not had contact with Mats since and was too young to remember ever having met him.”

“The Artist and the Thief” was one of the opening films at Sundance in 2020 and was selected from over 15,000 films. Rey now hopes for the same opportunity for “Ibelin”.

The film is a great humanitarian project. I am looking forward to spotlighting friend Mats.

Info: Director Benjamin Rey is a regular employee of VGTV, co-producer of “Ibelin”.

Watch the documentary “The Artist and the Thief”

Ashura Okorie

Ashura Okorie

"Infuriatingly humble web fan. Writer. Alcohol geek. Passionate explorer. Evil problem solver. Incurable zombie expert."

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