Dec 16, 2022
$70,000 in fellowships has been awarded to filmmakers Temi Ojo and Mark Ingber for uplifting science in narrative films
SFFILM—in partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the nation’s leading philanthropic grantor for science and the arts—has announced the recipients of fellowships for the SFFILM Sloan Science in Cinema Initiative. SFFILM launched the program in 2015 to celebrate and highlight cinema that brings together science and the art of storytelling, showing how these two seemingly disparate areas can combine to enhance the power of one another. The selections are meant to immerse a broad public audience in the challenges and rewards of scientific discovery, as well as to engage members of the scientific community.
The initiative includes exhibition programs, awards, and screenwriting fellowships that foster collaboration between scientists and artists and elevate filmmakers who tackle scientific or technological themes and characters. Past awards and exhibitions include Colin West’s Linoleum, starring Jim Gaffigan and Rhea Seehorn and Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up starring Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio among many others.
Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellows
Two filmmakers have been selected to receive Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships, which will support the development of their narrative feature screenplays. The fellowship is designed to ensure that narrative feature films that tell compelling stories about the worlds of science and technology continue to be made and seen. From an open call for submissions, the 2022 Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships have been awarded to two outstanding filmmakers.
Microchip engineer-turned-filmmaker Temi Ojo’s screenplay A Man with a Missing Face tells the story of an elderly Black man undergoing a life-risking face transplant surgery. His daughter must reconcile her emotional trauma with the new person her father is becoming. Ojo’s project is Inspired by the true story of Robert Chelsea, the first Black man and oldest person to date to receive a full face transplant.
Filmmaker Mark Ingber delves into the world of winemaking for his screenplay Terroir. When Marianne, a rebellious biochemistry PhD candidate, is called back from university to her family’s failing Bordeaux vineyard, she inadvertently plummets the winery into an existential crisis when, in an attempt to save the business, she creates a wine in a laboratory better than any ever made from their grapes.
“We are excited to be awarding this grant to two powerful projects that explore fascinating scientific advancements while also addressing socially prevalent issues through artful storytelling,” the prize’s review committee said in a statement. “From a comedic and nuanced story about a struggling winery and how the advancement of synthetic wine may either make it or break it, to a heartfelt true story of a major life-changing surgery and the complicated journey to healing, both films lead conversations on the application of controversial technologies and how we grapple with truth, identity, the vital questions society must address, and how science holds the answers. We are thrilled to be able to support the distinct voices of these writers and their unique approaches to storytelling. SFFILM and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are excited to continue to work together in championing films and filmmakers that inspire and expand the public understanding of science and technology.”
The review committee members who reviewed the finalists’ projects included: Aneeta Akhurst, Vice President of Content & Community, XPRIZE; Brad Balukjian, Ph.D., Director of Natural History & Sustainability Program at Merritt College; Patrick House, Ph.D., writer and neuroscientist; Rosa Morales, Artist Development Associate Manager of Narrative Programs at SFFILM; Masashi Niwano, Director of Artist Development at SFFILM; Kelly Sutherland, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Biology at Oregon Institute of Marine Biology; Indre Viskontas, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology at University of San Francisco; and Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Winners of the Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship will receive a $35,000 cash grant and a two-month residency at FilmHouse, SFFILM’s suite of production offices for local and visiting independent filmmakers. The residency program provides filmmakers with artistic guidance, office space, a vibrant creative community, and mentorship from established filmmakers and members of the independent film industry. To strengthen their film’s portrayal of science or technology, each fellow will be connected to a science advisor with expertise in the subjects at the center of their screenplays, as well as leaders in the Bay Area’s science and technology communities.