Banff: Participant’s David Linde Says He’s “Energized” by Film, TV Content That Inspires Social Change

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Participant CEO David Linde sees viewers of his studio’s movies and TV series as potential agents of social change.

“People are beginning to understand the value of engagement. That’s what we’re trying to do, to give people a way of engaging on multiple fronts, that has value for the commercial success of a movie and whatever impact that we’re seeking to accelerate and contribute to,” Linde told the Banff World Media Festival during a keynote address on Tuesday.

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The veteran film executive, as he discussed making content that inspires social change and community impact, talked about the growing number of partner companies in the entertainment industry with which Participant is working.

“I’m energized by what I see,” Linde said as he pointed to collaborating with Bron Studios, MACRO and Warner Bros. to produce and release Judas and the Black Messiah, and with Entertainment One to distribute Dark Waters, an environmental legal thriller directed by Todd Haynes.

Linde joined Participant in 2015 as CEO, and the company has since been behind Oscar-winning projects like Green Book, Spotlight, Roma and A Fantastic Woman. The indie studio focuses on movies, TV shows, publishing and digital content that inspire and compel social change.

Past films backed by Participant include An Inconvenient Truth, Contagion, The Help, Lincoln, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Square and Citizenfour. Linde told the Banff audience that Participant pivoted during the early stages of the pandemic, when movie production shut down, to creating and releasing public service announcements, or short education films, to inform people of all ages about how to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis.

And Participant eventually produced and released director Matthew Heineman’s The First Wave, a film set in three hospitals in New York City during the pandemic that ultimately shined a light on overworked and stressed health care workers needing mental health support and not receiving it.

“That film morphed into a very, very powerful story that was seen by a lot of people about what was happening to health care workers, as well as the people who were suffering,” Linde recounted.

The Banff World Media Festival continues through Wednesday.

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