EXCLUSIVE: On a day when Boeing announced disastrous financial results and the need to cut 16,000 jobs or 10% of its work force because of billions in losses from the pandemic and the Boeing 737 Max crashes that killed 346 passengers, Participant has set a feature documentary that will re-team the filmmaking duo of Emmy Award-winner Rachel Dretzin and Oscar nominee and Emmy-winner Barak Goodman. Producing the film is Don Edkins, whose son, World Bank employee Max Thabiso Edkins, was tragically killed in the March 20, 2019 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, one of the Boeing 737 MAX aircrafts.
The untitled film focuses on the twin tragedies of the Boeing 737 MAX air disasters in 2018 and 2019 that prompted criminal and civil scrutiny and laid bare an appalling lack of oversight and quality controls by the manufacturer. Participant will finance the project, which Dretzin and Goodman will direct and produce through their company Ark Media. Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann will executive produce the film.
Told through the lens of several family members on a crusade for justice and for answers, the film will delve deeply into how a once great American company allegedly became obsessed with its short-term financial goals at the expense of safety and how America’s regulatory system failed in its duty to protect the flying public. Investigators have focused on several shortcomings in Boeing’s 737 MAX line, including a sensor meant to keep planes from stalling that pushed down its nose. The mechanism could be disabled but pilots were not properly briefed on them and it became a death struggle in mid-air. Subsequent reports have pointed to inspections that found debris in gas tanks that shockingly included tools, rags and boot covers.
“We are thrilled to be partnering again with Participant, along with producer Don Edkins, in telling the story of the downfall of one of America’s greatest manufacturing companies,” Ark Media co-founders and husband and wife Dretzin and Goodman said in a joint statement. “It’s a story filled with remarkable characters; corporate greed; brave whistle blowers; and, of course, terrible human tragedy in the form of more than 340 passengers who lost their lives, and their loved ones who are seeking answers.”
Participant Chief Content Officer Diane Weyermann said the company was “honored that producer Don Edkins has trusted us with his story and with the unique access he brings to other families who have suffered such grievous losses. This is a story so personal, yet also such a profound indictment of corporate accountability. As directors, Rachel and Barak’s work is marked by extraordinary investigative journalism informed by a deep humanity and emotional intelligence, and we are incredibly proud to support this international team in bringing this story to audiences around the world.”
Participant previously collaborated with Dretzin on the 2018 film Far From The Tree, and with Goodman on this year’s Slay the Dragon, which he co-directed with Chris Durrance.
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