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Diane Weyermann, longtime content manager at Participant, who has also produced or produced dozens of films, including Oscar winners. An inconvenient truth and Citizenfour, died today of cancer in New York, the company said. She was 66 years old.
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Nominated twice for the Emmy Awards, including one this year for David Byrne’s American Utopia, Weyermann has long been the driving force behind Participant’s documentary and television list.
âEarly on in Participant, I was incredibly lucky that Diane agreed to lead our new documentary department, including our first documentary, ‘An Inconvenient Truth,'” said Jeff Skoll, who founded Participant in 2004. âFrom day one Diane brought a passion to her work and cared deeply for the battles we helped lead over the issues depicted in each film. For 17 years together she has been a champion in every way, through emerging strategic, industrial and global challenges. Diane was the heart and soul of the participant. I will miss her wit, collegiality and the excitement she brought to everything she touched. I am deeply grateful for the dedication of Diane to help me build Participant Our team, the film industry and the world suffered a great loss, Diane was one of a kind.
Said former vice president Al Gore, the subject and driving force behind the two-time Oscar-winning documentary An inconvenient truth: âIt is no exaggeration to say that Diane Weyermann has changed the world for the better in a remarkable way. She shone the spotlight on stories that sparked thoughtful action to promote justice and sparked progress towards a better, safer and more equitable future. With her skills and passion, she has inspired millions of people to become agents of change. Her deep and sincere empathy, creative vision, and unwavering commitment to supporting everyone she has met have made her the dearest of colleagues, mentors and friends. I am devastated by his loss. It is more than heartbreaking. And I am eternally grateful for her friendship and for the incredible legacy she leaves to the world. “
Read more tributes to Weyermann below.
In addition to executive producing 48 feature documentaries at Participant, she was EP in seven TV series, including America to me and City so real. It also led the company to co-acquire the distribution rights for the films.
Weyermann was a champion of female-led projects at Participant, including Citizenfour, which won the Oscar for Best Feature Documentary and was directed by Laura Poitras; The Great Invisible, directed by Margaret Brown; My name is Pauli Murray, directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West; Far from the tree by Rachel Dretzin; and John Lewis: Good trouble, by director Dawn Porter.
Collectively, Weyermann’s projects garnered 10 Oscar nominations and four wins, eight Emmy nominations and three wins, three BAFTA nominations and one win, five Spirit Award nominations and three wins. The films highlight issues ranging from climate change to government oversight, the plight of refugees to the dignity of work. But the care she’s taken to bring the most pressing social issues to life has extended beyond what has been shown on the big screen.
His small-screen work has earned him two Emmy nominations – Outstanding Variety Special for American Utopia this year and outstanding merit in making non-fiction films for Pressure cooker in 2010.
Prior to joining Participant in 2005, Weyermann was director of the documentary film program at the Sundance Institute. During her tenure, she was responsible for the Sundance Documentary Fund and launched two annual documentary film labs, focused on the creative process.
Prior to coming to Sundance, Weyermann was director of the Arts and Culture program at the Open Society Institute in New York, where she started the Soros Documentary Fund, which later became the Sundance Documentary Fund.
Weyermann is survived by his sister, Andrea Weyermann; his brother-in-law, Tim Goodwin; and his three nephews Dylan, Will and Harris.
In partnership with the Camden International Film Festival, Weyermann’s family, friends and colleagues have created the Diane Weyermann Memorial Fund that CIFF’s parent organization, the Points North Institute, will use to develop an ongoing program that encourages and supports emerging documentary makers. Donations can be made to the fund here. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.
Here are more tributes from fellow participants and filmmakers she has worked with:
David Linde, CEO of Participants
âWe are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of our leader and friend, Diane Weyermann. As steward of participant films for the past 17 years, she has shown how a fierce determination to tell authentic stories can stimulate civic participation and create a more empathetic world. There was no story worth telling that Diane shied away from. From the flagship documentary An inconvenient truth, which has helped to awaken millions of citizens around the world to the ravages of climate change to American factory and his brilliant examination of what it means to work in America today until the next The first wave, who bravely captures the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York City, Diane’s ability to partner with world-class filmmakers to tell the most important stories of our time leaves an indelible legacy that cannot be equal. She brought integrity, passion and unwavering commitment to every project she undertook. Her very presence has transformed everyone at Participant and words cannot express how much she will be missed.
Jonathan King, Former President of Narrative Film and Television at Participant
âDiane has been my dearest partner for over 12 years at Participant. She was as enthusiastic about supporting filmmakers creating narrative works as she was for her own projects. It meant the world to them and to me. His wisdom and shining example have always inspired us to try harder, to aim higher, to treat everyone with more kindness and generosity. Even more, I was lucky that Diane included me in her intimate circle of love and friendship since the day we met. Her joy and sense of adventure inspired all who knew her. Losing Diane is a terrible blow, not only to the world of cinema, but to the world in general. I will never stop missing it.
Laura Poitras, Citizenfour director
âThe impact of Diane’s work and devotion to film will be felt for generations – not just through the films that exist because of her, but exponentially through the relationships and organizations she has built. As a friend and collaborator, she was the best. Brilliant, fierce, funny and honest.
Steve james, America to me and City so real director
âDiane has been a colleague, a sounding board, a supporter and, above all, such a wise friend. There was never an ego with her and she constantly deflected praise. Diane was brilliant seeing what my work was trying to be and helping me make it better, more impactful, and insightful. I will cherish the memories of our long discussions about the job, the documentaries we loved and disliked, the state of documentaries and the world – both of which she worked tirelessly to improve. Still, she had a beaming smile and a wonderful sense of humor to go along with that incredible sense of purpose. She has been a real beacon in our community.
Elise Pearlstein, producer of Food, Inc. and American factory who also work with Weyermann at Participant
âDiane brought people together. She curated people as skillfully as she curated movies, with impeccable taste, the highest standards, and an unwavering moral compass. Diane had a knack for seeing around the corner and supporting films that would hit culture at the right time for the greatest impact. She was a staunch supporter of filmmakers, struggling relentlessly and fearlessly for their creative freedom and vision. She was a citizen of the world, a researcher and an explorer, and her loss will reverberate throughout the global documentary community. Diane leaves a deep legacy of films, as well as of people who have grown and prospered under her influence. My friend, mentor, colleague and accomplice will be dearly missed. “