Dec 21, 2020
$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 2020 Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships to Kiran Deol to develop her screenplay Tidal Disruption, and to Jon K. Jones for his project Let There Be Light.
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; Sara Bender, Ph.D., Program Officer of Science at Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Sophie Gunther, Manager of Film Funds at SFFILM; Patrick House, Ph.D., writer and neuroscientist; Lauren McBride, Director of Artist Development at SFFILM; 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.
The committee noted in a statement: “We are excited to award grants to two projects that not only address fascinating scientific fields, but in their own unique ways tackle the very basis of the scientific approach itself. From a historical account of a previously unsung African American scientist to a modern representation of power dynamics and misogyny in academia, both projects fearlessly portray the faults and boons of scientific culture through the eyes of complex, underrepresented characters. In addition to our grantees, the jury wishes to recognize two projects with Honorable Mentions: Lauren López de Victoria‘s Salt the Fields and Gabriel Wilson‘s After the Wind. While the jury was unable to award fellowships to those filmmakers, both projects showed much promise in their dynamic and achingly human explorations of scientific discovery. SFFILM and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are thrilled to continue working together to champion important stories, from past to present, that build upon strong narrative foundations to expand the public understanding of science and technology.”
“We are excited to partner with SFFILM to award two outstanding screenwriters with the 2020 Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “These powerful scripts, about sexual harassment of a female graduate student in astronomy and the real-life story of the pioneering little-known African American scientist Lewis H. Latimer, portray characters as complex and compelling as any in film today.”
2020 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 bi-weekly production meetings, 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.
Kiran Deol, writer/director
A starry-eyed graduate student desperately struggles to maneuver between her passion for astronomy and her charismatic mentor’s advances in this claustrophobic psychological thriller.
Kiran Deol is a comedian, filmmaker, and actress whose work tackles difficult topics with humor and intimacy. She starred on Mike Schur’s NBC series Sunnyside this past fall opposite Kal Penn, and as the lead in Aline Brosh McKenna’s/Sono Patel’s Pop TV pilot Arranged the year prior. Other TV credits include How to Get Away with Murder, The Mindy Project, Modern Family, New Girl, and more. As a filmmaker, her film Woman Rebel, a documentary about women rebel soldiers, was nominated for an Emmy, shortlisted for an Oscar, and distributed by HBO. She’s a 2020 Sundance Screenwriting Fellow and Sloan Award Recipient for her first feature film, Tidal Disruption. Additionally, Sundance Now released her short film American Haze, about her experience as a first-generation immigrant. She’s a regular host on Crooked Media’s all-female podcast Hysteria and she loves you.
Let There Be Light
Jon K. Jones, writer/director
Let There Be Light is based on the true story of African American inventor, draftsman, scientist, poet, and American Civil War veteran Lewis H. Latimer, who struggles to balance love and scientific curiosity amidst the turn of the 20th century in the United States.
New York-based writer and director Jon K. Jones earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Brooklyn College with a dual concentration in Screenwriting and Film History and a Master of Fine Arts at Columbia University School of the Arts in pursuit of his passion for story. His personal mission is to bring quality, entertaining, and original stories to life in television, fiction writing, and motion picture by combining socially poignant storytelling with transportive and imaginative aesthetics. In 2020, Jones completed a coveted year-long internship at Saturday Night Live and was the recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Award for his short screenplay Let There Be Light, a small snapshot of the life of African American inventor Lewis H. Latimer.
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 this screenwriting program, the initiative also features the Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund, which supports filmmakers developing science-themed screenplays based on specific scientific discoveries; 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.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a New York based, philanthropic institution that makes grants for research in science, technology, and economics; quality and diversity of scientific institutions; and public engagement with science. 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 about 20 film school and film festival partners and has supported over 700 film projects, including over 30 feature films. For more information visit sloan.org or follow @SloanPublic on Twitter or Facebook.
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 $8 million has been disbursed to more than 250 film projects in various stages of production. Highlights include the SFFILM Rainin Grant, which distributes 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, 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.