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Susanne Bier Steps In as Academy Switches International Film Committee Chairs

Danish Oscar-winner Susanne Bier replaces Participant documentary chief Diane Weyermann.

Susanne Bier attends a screening of "Bird Box" at Alice Tully Hall on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Susanne Bier attends a screening of “Bird Box” at Alice Tully Hall on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Danish director Susanne Bier is stepping in to replace outgoing International Feature Film Executive Committee co-head Diane Weyermann. Academy President David Rubin appointed Directors Branch governor Bier to co-chair the committee alongside Writers Branch governor Larry Karaszewski.

Weyermann, the documentary chief at Participant, elected to step down as co-chair and recuse herself from serving on the Executive Committee due to her professional relationship with “Collective,” which Romania officially selected for this year’s International Feature Film competition. Weyermann is not credited on the film and while Participant did not finance it, Participant did co-acquire “Collective” and is sharing its release with Magnolia Pictures.

The Danish Bier directed Oscar-winner “In a Better World,” the Oscar-nominated “After the Wedding,” “Open Hearts,” and “Brothers.” She has also directed film and television in Hollywood, including HBO series “The Undoing,” starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, Netflix smash “Bird Box,” starring Sandra Bullock, Emmy-winning “The Night Manager,” starring Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Debicki, and “Things We Lost in the Fire,” starring Halle Berry.

This year’s Best International Feature Film race is already underway, as submitted films are being made available to all 9,000 eligible Academy members online at the Academy portal, which is available on Apple TV. If they commit to watching a minimum number of foreign-language films, any voter, no matter where they live, can participate in selecting the shortlist for the first time this year.

This could change the makeup of that list, which will be announced February 9. Last year saw 91 contenders, but we’re likely to see fewer for 2021. During this pandemic year, publicists will not be able to entertain the venerable Los Angeles committee regulars, and a larger global voting bloc could reflect a less mainstream, more highbrow sensibility, as some older voters may be less likely to embrace at-home viewing.

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