Nov 25, 2019
Screenwriting Fellowship Supports 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 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. Managed under the auspices of SFFILM’s artist development program, SFFILM Makers, this program 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 2019 Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships to Gina Hackett to develop her screenplay A Bridge Between Us, and to Josalynn Smith for her project Something in the Water.
The review committee consisted of Brad Balukjian, Ph.D., Director of Natural History & Sustainability Program, Merritt College; Sara Bender, Ph.D., Program Officer, Science, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Sophie Gunther, SFFILM Artist Development Manager, Filmmaker Funds; Patrick House, Ph.D., Fellow at the Allen Institute for Brain Science; Lauren Kushner, SFFILM Interim Director of Artist Development; and Indre Viskontas, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of San Francisco.
The committee noted in a statement: “Through the SFFILM Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship, we are excited to support two stellar filmmakers whose stories not only convey complex scientific narratives but embody strong and unwaveringly unique representations of female scientists tackling the most iconic engineering feats to the most localized epicenters of environmental justice. SFFILM is grateful to the Sloan Foundation for their continued and unparalleled leadership in this arena and for championing bold stories from our past and immediate present, all of which inform the future of the public understanding of science and technology.”
“We’re thrilled to partner with SFFILM in awarding the 2019 Sloan Science in Cinema Fillmmaker Fellowships to Gina Hackett for A Bridge Between Us and Josalynn Smith for Something in the Water, two gifted female filmmakers writing about the role of women and underrepresented groups in science,” said Doron Weber, Vice President & Program Director of the Sloan Foundation.
2019 SLOAN SCIENCE IN CINEMA FILMMAKER FELLOWSHIPS
Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships include a $35,000 cash grant and a two-month residency at FilmHouse, SFFILM’s suite of production offices for local and visiting independent filmmakers. 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.
A Bridge Between Us
Gina Hackett, writer/director
When the chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge is paralyzed in the early stages of its Victorian-era construction, his high-society wife Emily reluctantly steps up to act as his intermediary, courting jealousy and hostility as she blossoms into an engineer in her own right. Based on a true story, A Bridge Between Us tracks the building of a bridge and the collapse of a marriage.
Gina Hackett is a writer, director, and journalist based in New York. A Harvard alumna hailing from the Midwest, she is currently pursuing an MFA in Film at Columbia University and tells stories about women who make trouble. In 2019, she received the Katharina Otto-Bernstein Production Grant for her thesis film Delicate Prey, which she shot on 16mm film and is currently in post-production. Her most recent film, Amateur Night, had its world premiere at the 2019 New Orleans Film Festival and is currently on the festival circuit.
Something in the Water
Josalynn Smith, writer/director
Leah, a teen girl living in St. Louis City, feels isolated and ignored after moving to a new neighborhood and being bused to a new school in an overwhelmingly white county. When Leah begins to observe behavioral changes in her little brother, through her research and experimentation she soon discovers that lead is the culprit. Now tasked with finding the source of the contamination and advocating for a systemic overhaul, a girl, once ignored, begins to find her voice.
Josalynn Smith is a Black American filmmaker based in New York. A recent graduate of Columbia University’s Film MFA program, her thesis short, also titled Something in the Water, received the Sloan Foundation’s Production Grant. Additionally, Smith is the recipient of the Jesse Thompkins III Screenwriting Award from Columbia. Her shorts and a feature documentary on which she served as a narrator and videographer have screened at St. Louis International Film Festival, Queer Fest St. Louis, Twin Cities Black Film Festival, and Williamsburg International Film Festival.
Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships are part of SFFILM and the Sloan Foundation’s year-round Science in Cinema initiative, which is designed to develop and present new feature films and episodic content that portray fully-drawn scientist and technologist characters; immerse audiences in the challenges and rewards of scientific discovery; and sharpen public awareness of the intersection of science, technology, and our daily lives. Leveraging its position in the heart of the innovation capital of the world, SFFILM seeks to forge meaningful connections between the artistic and scientific communities through a suite of programs. In addition to these screenwriting programs, the initiative also features the Sloan Science in Cinema Prize, which celebrates a finished narrative feature film each fall; and Sloan Science on Screen, a spotlight program at the San Francisco International Film Festival that debuted in 2016.
For more information, visit sffilm.org.
SFFILM Makers (formerly “Filmmaker360”), the organization’s artist development program, provides significant financial and creative resources to independent filmmakers through grants, fellowships, residencies, fiscal sponsorship, and more. Since 2009, over $7 million has been disbursed to more than 200 film projects in various stages of production. Highlights include the SFFILM Rainin Grant and the SFFILM Westridge Grant, which together distribute the most nonprofit funding for narrative features in the United States; a joint effort with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to cultivate stories rooted in science and technology; and the Documentary Film Fund, a partnership with the Jenerosity Foundation. 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 (April 8–21, 2020), SFFILM is a year-round organization delivering screenings and events to more than 75,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 12,000 students and teachers 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.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, is a non-profit philanthropy that makes grants for original research and education in science, technology, and economic performance. Sloan’s program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater, and new media to bridge the two cultures of science and the humanities. The Foundation works with over a dozen film school and film festival partners and has supported over 620 film projects, including over 25 feature films. For more information visit sloan.org or follow @SloanPublic on Twitter or Facebook.