Three documentaries have been selected to to participate in the inaugural Diane Weyermann fellowship program, which will kick off Sept. 15 at Maine’s 19th edition of the Camden Intl. Film Festival.
The projects are: “The Last Nomads,” a co-production of Serbia, Montenegro and France, directed and produced by Biljana Tutorov, co-directed by Petar Glomazić, and co-produced by Quentin Laurent; “The Production of the World,” a co-production of Canada and USA, directed by Brett Story and produced by Jeff Reichert; and “Untitled Project,” a production of India, directed and produced by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya.
Each doc will receive $100,000 in unrestricted grants plus 18 months of creative support through retreats and mentorship via CIFF’s Points North Institute, the non-fiction creative hub based in Camden, Maine.
The fellowship was established to honor Weyermann, the former chief content officer at Participant and former director of the Sundance Institute’s documentary film program. She died of cancer in October 2021. Weyermann’s leadership at Open Society Institute, Sundance Institute, and Participant contributed to the global expansion, artistic flourishing, and social impact of independent documentary filmmaking.
The program champions filmmaking teams producing feature documentaries that take artistic risks in highlighting stories of moral and ethical urgency. The 18-month program includes mentorship from veteran filmmakers and industry leaders, and two creative retreats at the 2023 and 2024 editions of CIFF. The program is designed to support the completion of fellows’ films and the advancement of both directors’ and producers’ careers.
“We are immensely proud to partner with these three filmmaking teams and co-create a Fellowship experience that will support them in making ambitious and fiercely independent films that we know will resonate deeply with global audiences,” said Points North’s program director, Sean Flynn. “Though their stories span three continents and disparate political and cultural contexts, they each push the boundaries of cinematic language and challenge viewers to engage emotionally and critically with images, ideology, and the projection of state power.”
Ben Fowlie, Executive and Artistic Director of Points North adds, “The Diane Weyermann Fellowship marks a significant advancement in our support of independent documentary filmmakers.Inspired by Diane’s passion and guided by her unwavering commitment to protect and uphold the vision of the filmmaker, this Fellowship has been designed to provide the time, space, and resources to allow artists to take creative risks and tell their stories on their own terms.”
More from Variety
During CIFF, which runs until Sept. 17, the fellows will come together for the first time to workshop their projects alongside four experienced mentors including creative producer Andrea Meditch, former Sundance Film Festival director Tabitha Jackson, editor Jean Tsien and director Kirsten Johnson. The weeklong creative retreat will include work-in-progress screenings, career strategy workshops, one on one industry meetings, and a full immersion into the CIFF program. After the festival, fellows will stay connected through bi-monthly Zoom meetings, and each participant will be paired with individual mentors who can support their creative and professional development.
Participant’s executive vice president of documentary film and television, Courtney Sexton helped develop the Fellowship. “Diane was a mentor, a friend, and an inspiration. Her legacy will live on forever in the films she championed, the creators she nurtured, and the lives she changed. The Fellowship’s support of emerging filmmakers embodies everything that she stood for, and I know she would be so proud of this inaugural class.”
The three supported projects were chosen out of 401 submissions from 70 countries, through a 6-month selection process that included the Points North curatorial team and a jury of veteran filmmakers and programmers.
“The Diane Weyermann Fellowship, with its all-round nourishment is a covenant,” said fellowship directors Abraham and Madheshiya, whose first feature “The Cinema Travellers” received a Jury Special Mention after its 2016 Cannes premiere. “That it is okay to dare and dream, to imagine and create, to take the leaps and mine the depths of your creative process. This breadth of support is a unicorn for the independent documentary space. Our hearts are bursting with gratitude and our spirits have soared at receiving this singular honour.”
The Diane Weyermann Fellowship was developed in partnership with Participant and made possible by seed funding from the Skoll Foundation and major support from the RandomGood Foundation, Ford Foundation’s JustFilms, and over 200 individual supporters.
The Fellowship is one of five artist programs produced by Points North in 2023. Each Fellowship is designed to connect filmmakers with mentors, funders, and potential collaborators, using the Camden film festival as a platform to build a community of support, nurture the careers of nonfiction storytellers, and help them develop a stronger artistic voice. In 2023, these programs will support a combined 23 independent film projects in development being produced across 20 plus countries.
2023-24 Diane Weyermann Fellows:
“The Last Nomads”
Directed and produced by Biljana Tutorov, co-directed by Petar Glomazić, and co-produced by Quentin Laurent, Rok Bicek and Eva Kuperman.
In the pristine mountains of Montenegro, a mother and daughter defend their land from militarization. A gripping family and environmental drama unfolds, as the story of violence against women and nature echoes violence against nature.
“The Production of the World”
Directed by Brett Story
Produced by Jeff Reichert
An all-archival documentary about the radical critic John Berger, the CIA’s infiltration of the arts during the “cultural Cold War,” and the ways images operate as a battleground for politics.
Directed and Produced by Shirley Abraham & Amit Madheshiya
Best of Variety