NUNN'S THEATER HABIT
We need more heroes like Ric Weiland
Wed. June 23, 2021 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn
World of Wonder Productions is at it again with a new documentary called Yes I Am - The Ric Weiland Story. The team that currently creates the RuPaul's Drag Race franchise has also produced many documentaries in the past similar to this one.
For those that aren't familar, Richard "Ric" Weiland was a computer software programmer and was the second employee at the Microsoft Corporation. He left the company to pursue other projects and contributed to the LGBT social justice movement many years ago.
After his death, he left more than $165 million to various nonprofit organizations that were combating the HIV epidemic at that time.
Yes I Am chronicles Weiland's legacy with intimate footage and personal notes portrayed by an actor in vignettes throughout the piece, voiced by out actor Zachary Quinto. Seattle filmmaker Aaron Bear directs the touching story and he has obviously worked tirelessly to assemble the pieces into a cohesive timeline.
That must have not been easy as Weiland was a private person who battled troubling mental health issues that led to his death. He is described in the film by Bill Gates as "a complex thinker" who was "hard to figure out." What Weiland accomplished while battling his demons turned out to be unforgettable and still lasts until this day.
Weiland was openly gay and recognized as a key component to Microsoft's success. That earned him a large amount of money, and nstead of becoming a miser with it, he donated the funds to others and became an iconic philanthropist along the way.
His work was not just in fundraising, but in his perserverance while meeting challenges. Thanks to owning General electric stock, he pleaded with shareholders at meetings to work on discrimination and asked them to change their various hiring policies.
Weiland's generosity is captured well in Yes I Am and the impact he left behind still lastins until today. People of all ages can now appreciate and respect that legacy thanks to this powerful documentary.
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato from World of Wonder also made the doc The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which is now being released as a biopic starring Jessica Chastain. Will it be long before Weiland gets the same treatment? Only time will tell if WOW or Ryan Murphy snatches it up soon. The Academy Awards love a good true story about a hero who has passed away after a memorable life, so this story could earn a lot of trophies in the future.
Weiland is finally seeing the attention he deserves and we need more heroes like him today. Seek out this magnetic film playing at the Provincetown Film Festival June 16-25. Tickets can be found at ProvincetownFilm.org. It's perfect for Pride month!