Aug 19, 2021
$70,000 Distributed as Part of Screenwriting Fellowship
Supporting the Development of Narrative Feature Scripts Related to Science or Technology
San Francisco, CA – SFFILM has announced the two filmmakers that have been selected to receive Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships, which will support the development of their narrative feature screenplays. Produced in partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships are part of the organization’s efforts to support programs that cultivate and champion films exploring scientific or technological themes and characters. A longstanding element of the artist development programs offered by SFFILM Makers, this 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, SFFILM and the Sloan Foundation have awarded the 2021 Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships to Ryan Craver to develop his screenplay Tadpole, and to Rachel Ward for her project Typhoid Mary.
The review committee consisted of Aneeta Akhurst, Director of Programming at Seeker Media; Brad Balukjian, Ph.D., Director of Natural History & Sustainability Program at Merritt College; Patrick House, Ph.D., writer and neuroscientist; Lauren McBride, Director of Artist Development at SFFILM; Rosa Morales, Artist Development Associate Manager of Narrative Programs 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 (ex-oficio).
The committee noted in a statement: “We are thrilled to be awarding this grant to two exciting projects that explore culturally significant scientific fields while also tackling artful and human stories. From a nuanced and delicate coming of age story about a young Trans scientist to a humanizing portrayal of one of the history’s most infamous and misunderstood women, both projects lead important conversations in today’s social zeitgeist. We appreciate the unique identities of the writers and how their voices shine through in their 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.”
“We are proud to partner with SFFILM to support these two talented screenwriters whose original 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 writers join a nationwide program that has supported over 750 science and film projects and includes filmmakers from twelve distinguished film schools and six outstanding screenplay development partners.”
2021 SLOAN SCIENCE IN CINEMA FILMMAKER FELLOWSHIPS
Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships include a $35,000 cash grant and a two-month virtual residency at FilmHouse, including access to SFFILM Artist Development offerings such as virtual events, creative advisory, and more. SFFILM will connect each fellow to a science advisor with expertise in the scientific or technological subjects at the center of their screenplays, as well as leaders in the Bay Area’s science and technology communities.
When a closeted trans high school student’s experiments ignite a religious backlash in the Bible Belt, he becomes the reluctant face of America’s absurdist battle between science and religious education.
Ryan Craver—writer, director, producer
Ryan Craver is a Southern, gay, and quietly irreverent filmmaker originally from Mooresville, North Carolina. His feature project Tadpole received development support from the Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Filmmaker Fund in 2020. Tadpole’s related short Sound to Sea (in post) also won production grants from both the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists. Both films consider the intersection of queer ecology and teenage hormones. Ryan’s first short, Truck Slut, a personal meditation on queerness’s place in a white trash family, was a special mention at the 2019 Palm Springs International Shortfest for “Best Emerging Student Filmmaker.” The short also found him a home at the New Orleans Film Festival, who recently invited him to speak on a panel titled “Southern Stories, Southern Aesthetics.” Ryan is currently at work developing Truck Slut as a TV Series, and he’s writing a new feature about a Depression-era Appalachian family visited by Satan. A recent graduate of Columbia University’s Film MFA, Ryan now lives in New York with a shy betta fish named Plexiglass, who kind of resembles John Galliano’s custom wedding gown for Gwen Stefani.
A brilliant but headstrong Irish immigrant cook unintentionally spreads typhoid to some of the wealthiest homes in Gilded Age New York, until relentless investigators hunt her down, feed her to the tabloids and make her name infamous even to this day.
Rachel Ward—writer, director, producer
As a teenager, Rachel’s flair for dramatic expression led to the misguided diagnosis that she was “prone to histrionics.” Fortunately, she understood that being curious and passionate was not something she needed to overcome. At seventeen, Rachel left her suburban hometown to attend San Francisco State University, where she focused on photography and gender studies. She finished her bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, where she later became an adjunct faculty member. She has been a producer on six feature films, such as Space Station 76, Super Dark Times, and Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, which won the Producer’s Guild Award for Best Documentary in 2012. She is currently an MFA candidate at Columbia University, where she indulges her love of storytelling and remains haunted by the ineffable.
SFFILM Makers, the artist development program of SFFILM, provides critical support to filmmakers worldwide. Through grants, residencies and year-round programming, SFFILM Makers supports independent filmmakers in all stages of development. SFFILM’s FilmHouse residency program provides Bay Area-based documentary and narrative filmmakers with artistic guidance, office space, a vibrant creative community, and support from established film industry professionals. SFFILM Makers is also home to the SFFILM Rainin Grant program, the largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the US. Each year, SFFILM Makers gives nearly $1M in grants to filmmakers and has supported projects including Fernando Frias’ I’m No Longer Here, Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth, RaMell Ross’ Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You, Ljubo Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska’s Honeyland and Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station. For more information, visit sffilm.org/makers.
SFFILM is a nonprofit organization with a mission to champion the world’s finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area. Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival, SFFILM is a year-round organization delivering screenings and events to more than 75,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 15,000 students, teachers, and families annually. In addition to its public programs, SFFILM supports the careers of independent filmmakers from the Bay Area and beyond with grants, residencies, and other creative development services. For more information visit sffilm.org.
This press release is available online at sffilm.org/press