Jan 16, 2024
Join us in congratulating the SFFILM Sloan Science in Cinema Initiative recipients for this upcoming year. These filmmakers are set to receive dedicated support and $140,000 in cash grants. The recipients of the Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships are Vivienne Shaw and Fradique. The fellowship will support the development of their narrative feature screenplays and 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.
Filmmakers selected to receive the Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund are Sahand Nikoukar, Katherine Burns, and James ‘Séamus’ Bearheart. The fund supports the screen adaptation of specific scientific articles and discoveries that have been cataloged in the Sloan Stories of Science Sourcebook as inspiration for filmmakers. Last month, SFFILM honored Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer with the Sloan Science in Cinema Prize at a special event which included an exclusive 35mm screening of the film and an onstage conversation with Production Designer Ruth De Jong, Editor Jennifer Lame, Supervising Sound Editor Richard King and University of California Berkeley Physics Professor Dr. Benjamin Safdi.
“A well-crafted script is key to a great film,” said Anne Lai, Executive Director of SFFILM. “We’re thrilled to have this partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation that not only recognizes the importance of screenwriting but also provides rare support for filmmakers to dedicate time and resources to this critical period of development.”
“We are proud to partner with SFFILM to support these five talented screenwriters whose original and compelling scripts engage with important issues in science and society while giving eloquent voice to underrepresented characters,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “These selected writers join a nationwide program that has supported over 800 science and film projects and include award-winning filmmakers from twelve distinguished film schools and six outstanding screenplay development partners.”
SFFILM’s partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation—the nation’s leading philanthropic grantor for science and the arts—culminates in 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.
Sloan Science in Cinema Initiative: Artist Development Programs
“The SFFILM Sloan Science in Cinema Fellowship and SFFILM Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund give us the opportunity to elevate already outstanding filmmakers,” said Masashi Niwano, SFFILM Director of Artist Development. “Filmmakers like Vivienne Shaw, Fradique, Sahand Nikoukar, Katherine Burns, and James ‘Séamus’ Bearheart will receive targeted support, both to sharpen the science and scientific themes presented in their scripts, and for ongoing professional development to deepen their craft.”
Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships
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 2023 Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships have been awarded to two outstanding filmmakers.
Vivienne Shaw | KILLING JAR
After her mother’s abrupt death, an obsessive insect researcher thrown into a confusing web of family lies and secrets decides to undertake her own forensic entomology investigation to uncover the truth.
Fradique | HOLD TIME FOR ME
An Angolan photographer seeks a vanished Cuban biologist in a surreal, environmentally-crisis-ridden world where Luanda drifts away from the mainland.
Recipients of the Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship will receive a $35,000 cash grant and 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.
SFFILM Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund
The Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund supports the screen adaptation of specific scientific articles and discoveries, cataloged in the Sloan Stories of Science Sourcebook as inspiration for filmmakers. These recipients each receive a $20,000 cash grant and access to 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.
Three screenwriters, Sahand Nikoukar, Katherine Burns, and James ‘Séamus’ Bearheart have been selected to receive funding through SFFILM’s Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund, which is part of a suite of screenwriting programs that cultivate narrative feature films exploring scientific or technological themes and characters. This artist support program was developed in partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the nonprofit dedicated to bridging the cultures of science and the humanities, and focuses on the adaptation of important scientific and technological discoveries to the big screen.
Sahand Nikoukar | CENTAUR
What if an AI ran for President—and won? When a band of irreverent tech visionaries launches their AI algorithm as a mock presidential candidate, they inadvertently trigger a nationwide phenomenon. As the AI contender outwits seasoned politicians, exposes hypocrisy, and reveals flaws in the system, this campaign mockumentary examines the future of politics and humanity itself.
Katherine Burns | HENRY
Dee Peralta (37) has left Hollywood behind to play the titular role in a stage production of Henry V, searching for a feeling of connection that she has been missing. But when she discovers that the production is being run by a new AI chatbot, she must grapple with what connection really means—and perhaps find it in an unlikely place.
James ‘Séamus’ Bearheart | VISIBLE
A scientist’s remarkable observation of the glass frog’s unique behavior is continually dismissed as unimportant by her peers. The scientist must dig deep to believe in herself and show the world how important this discovery is.
“We remain inspired by the undeniable potential of creativity fueled by the intersection of art, science, and technology,” the prize’s review committee said in a statement. “This year’s recipients of the SFFILM Sloan Grants represent a convergence of storytelling, scientific curiosity, and technological innovation, demonstrating the vitality and impact of their diverse artistic voices. We are thrilled to offer support at this exciting stage of their creative process.”
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: Brad Balukjian, Ph.D., Director of Natural History & Sustainability Program at Merritt College; Patrick House, Ph.D., writer and neuroscientist; Rosa Morales, Artist Development Manager of Narrative Programs at SFFILM; Masashi Niwano, Director of Artist Development at SFFILM; Ilana Segall, M.S., Data Scientist at Mozilla; 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.
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