Diane Weyermann, longtime content director for Participant, who also produced or produced dozens of films, including Oscar winners. To the uncomfortable truth other Citizenfour, died today of cancer in New York, the company said. She was 66 years old.
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Twice Emmy nominee, including one this year for David Byrne’s American Utopia, Weyermann had long been the driving force behind Participant’s documentary and television slate.
“In the early days of 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. “Since day 1 Diane brought passion to her work and cared deeply for the battles we help fight over the issues that are depicted in each film. For 17 years together, she was a champion in every way, across emerging global, industrial and strategic challenges. Diane was the heart and soul of the participant. I will miss his spirit, his collegiality and the effervescence he brought to everything he touched. I am deeply grateful for Diane’s dedication to helping me build Participant. Our team, the film industry and the world have suffered a great loss. Diane was unique. “
Said former Vice President Al Gore, the subject and driving force of the doubly Oscar-winning documentary. To the uncomfortable truth: “It is not an exaggeration to say that Diane Weyermann changed the world for the better in a remarkable way. She powerfully focused stories that sparked thoughtful action to promote justice and ignited progress toward a better, safer, and more equitable future. With his skill and passion, he spurred millions to become agents of change. Her deep and heartfelt empathy, creative vision, and unwavering commitment to supporting each and every person she encountered made her the most appreciated of colleagues, mentors, and friends. I am devastated by your loss. It is more than heartbreaking. And I will always be grateful for his friendship and for the incredible legacy he leaves to the world. “
Read more tributes to Weyermann below.
In addition to executive producing 48 documentaries on Participant, she served as EPs on seven television series, including America to me other So real city. It also led the company to co-acquire the film distribution rights.
Weyermann was a champion of the women-led projects in Participant, including Citizenfour, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Film 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; Away from the tree by Rachel Dretzin; other John Lewis: Good problemby director Dawn Porter.
Collectively, Weyermann’s projects have 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 topics ranging from climate change to government surveillance, the plight of refugees to the dignity of work. But the care he put into bringing the most pressing social problems to life extended beyond what was shown on the big screen.
His work on the small screen earned him a pair of Emmy nominations – Outstanding Variety Special for American Utopia this year and exceptional merit in making nonfiction films for Pressure cooker in 2010.
Before joining Participant in 2005, Weyermann was Director of the Documentary Film Program at the Sundance Institute. During his tenure, he was responsible for the Sundance Documentary Fund and launched two annual documentary labs, focused on the creative process.
Prior to her time at Sundance, Weyermann was director of the Arts and Culture Program at the Open Society Institute in New York, where she launched 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 established the Diane Weyermann Memorial Fund which CIFF’s parent organization, the Points North Institute, will use to develop an ongoing program that nurtures and supports to emerging documentary filmmakers. Donations can be made to the fund here. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.
Here are other tributes from Participant colleagues and filmmakers he worked with:
David Linde, Executive Director of Participant
“We are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of our leader and friend, Diane Weyermann. As the manager of Participant’s films for the past 17 years, she showed how fierce determination to tell authentic stories can fuel civic engagement and create a more empathetic world. There was no story worth telling that Diane shied away from. From the emblematic documentary To the uncomfortable truth, which helped awaken millions of the world’s citizens to the ravages of climate change to American factory and his glowing examination of what it means to work in America today for the next The first waveBoldly capturing the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York, 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 matched. He brought integrity, passion, and an unwavering commitment to every project he undertook. Her very presence transformed everyone into a Participant and words cannot express how much we will miss her. “
Jonathan King, former President of Narrative Film and Television, Participant
“Diane was my dearest partner for over 12 years at Participant. He supported filmmakers as enthusiastically in creating narrative work as he did his own projects. That meant the world to them and to me. Her wisdom and shining example always inspired us to try harder, aim higher, treat everyone with more kindness and generosity. Furthermore, I was fortunate that Diane included me in her close circle of love and friendship from the day we met. Her joy and sense of adventure inspired everyone who met her. Losing Diane is a terrible blow, not just for the movie world, but for the world at large. I will never stop missing her. “
Laura Poitras, Citizenfour director
“The 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 built. As a friend and collaborator, she was the best. Brilliant, fierce, funny and honest. “
Steve jamesAmerica to me other City so real director
“Diane has been such a wise colleague, a sounding board, an advocate, and most of all, a friend. There was never an ego in her and she was constantly deflecting praise. Diane was brilliant in seeing what my work was trying to be and helping me improve it, have more impact and improve. I will treasure the memories of our long talks about work, about documentaries we love and don’t love, about the state of doctors and the world, and we both worked tirelessly to improve them. However, he had a beaming smile and a wonderful sense of humor to accompany that amazing sense of purpose. She has been a true beacon in our community. “
Elise Pearlstein, producer of Food, Inc. other American factory who also works with Weyermann on Participant
“Diane brought people together. She curated people as skillfully as she curated movie slates, with impeccable taste, the highest standards, and an unshakable moral compass. Diane had a great gift for seeing around the corner and supporting films that would hit the culture at the right time to make the most impact. She was a fierce advocate for filmmakers, fighting tirelessly and fearlessly for their creative freedom and vision. She was a citizen of the world, a seeker, and an explorer, and her loss will reverberate across the entire global documentary community. Diane leaves behind a deep legacy of movies, as well as people who grew up and thrived under her influence. I will deeply miss my friend, mentor, colleague and partner in crime. “
David Guggeheim, director of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’:
“Diane and I met while conducting To the uncomfortable truth, and I was immediately struck by his creative brilliance. He loved non-fiction and fiercely defended those who created it. It had a great influence on my films and my evolution as a director. His work over the past two decades led to a new era for documentaries. Nonfiction will never be the same again. “