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TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund to award $150 000

The Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) today announced the films that will receive financial and creative support from the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This year, three projects, chosen from 130 applicants from around the world, will be awarded a total of $150,000 and will be recognized at the annual Tribeca Film Festival, taking place April 18-29, 2012. The winning films include: Unmanned, Computer Chess and Resonance. The projects, which all emphasize science and technology in their storylines, focus on subjects including a new style of war fought by remote control, tensions between human ingenuity and machines in the computer chess tournaments of the 1980s, and the impact of brain abnormalities on interpersonal relationships.

The TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund awards grants to narrative film projects that dramatize science and technology themes in film or that portray scientists, engineers, or mathematicians in prominent character roles. Grant recipients receive year-round mentorship from science experts and members of the film industry with the goal to help their projects at any stage move towards completion. 2012 marks the 11th year of the partnership between TFI and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a founding sponsor of the Tribeca Film Festival and TFI.

The winning projects were selected by an Award Committee made up of film and science notables including actor Ryan Phillippe (Flags of Our Fathers, The Lincoln Lawyer); actor Stephen Lang (Avatar, Public Enemies, Terra Nova); producer Michael Shamberg (Pulp Fiction, Erin Brockovich, Django Unchained); neuroscientist Joseph E. LeDoux; professor of astrophysical sciences J. Richard Gott (Princeton); and molecular endocrinologist Dr. Carter Bancroft.

“For the past 11 years, Tribeca has collaborated with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support compelling film projects with science and technology themes and help them reach a wider audience,” said Tamir Muhammad, Director of Feature Programming, TFI. “Programs like the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, the Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize for Screenwriting, and this year’s retrospective screening and panel of WarGames at the Festival showcase our longstanding partnership. We look forward to the continued success of the program, and to working with this year’s deserving grantees.”

“We are very proud to celebrate our long standing partnership with Tribeca, which has helped produce an exciting array of film projects, readings and panels that present new ways to think about science and technology,” said Doron Weber, Vice President, Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “This year’s talented filmmakers and their diverse range of stories —from a new style of war fought with drones, to the ongoing struggle between humans and machines to the complexities of our own brain — attest to the growing appeal of movies that engage our minds as well as our hearts.”

Selected projects for funding:

• Unmanned
A young Air Force drone operator struggles to balance the stresses of going to war for the first time with the challenges of being a good father and husband, as he commutes each day between suburban family life and a new style of war fought by remote control. The short version of this film received an earlier Sloan Foundation production grant and is premiering at this year’s Festival. Casey Cooper Johnson (writer/director), Casey Fenton (producer), Peter W. Singer (story by), Sevdije Kastrati (cinematographer)

• Computer Chess
This film focuses on a computer chess tournament in the 80’s, transporting viewers to a nostalgic moment when the battle of technology versus the human spirit seemed a little more up for grabs.
Andrew Bujalski (writer/director), Houston King (producer), Alex Lipschultz (producer)

• Resonance
Two damaged young men trying to reclaim their lives, push each other to the breaking point until they realize that only their friendship will save them. Portraying the crossroads of neurology and psychiatry, the film examines how the brain's functioning affects the way we interact, and how medical science treats brain abnormalities. Dara Bratt (director/writer), Keiran Dick (writer), Andrew Fierberg (producer), Robert Gerber (executive producer)

On Monday, April 23, the grant-winning film projects will have scenes from their screenplays performed by an esteemed cast at the invitation-only Sloan Work-In-Progress Readings at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space.

In addition to financial and year-round ancillary support, TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund grant recipients will receive exposure to industry executives, financiers and producers during the Tribeca Film Festival including the opportunity to present their projects to industry executives during one-on-one pitch sessions at TFI Industry Meetings. These opportunities help winners take their project to the next level. For example, Future Weather (writer/director Jenny Deller), which won a TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund grant in 2010, will have its world premiere at that this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. One of last year’s grantees, A Birder’s Guide to Everything (Rob Meyer, director, screenwriter; Luke Matheny, screenwriter; Paul Miller, producer) currently has Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley (Ghandi, House of Sand and Fog, Hugo) attached to the project. Another winner from last year, screenwriter and director Lara Shapiro (Talking Book) is now doing extensive research with inventor and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil himself, to transform her work about the Kurzweil Reading Machine into a screenplay.

As part of their ongoing partnership, Sloan and TFI recently awarded Penny Stock by Grainger David (NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts) the 2012 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Student Grand Jury Prize for Screenwriting. The $50,000 grant recognizes exceptional feature screenplays that dramatize science and technology themes, and includes year-round support from TFI, including mentorship and guidance from scientific and film industry professionals.

At this year’ s Festival, the Sloan Foundation and TFI will also present a Sloan retrospective screening and panel of WarGames as well as the world premiere and panel of Future Weather, a 2010 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund winner, as part of “Tribeca Talks: After the Movie.”

WarGames - Sloan Retrospective Screening and Panel
Saturday, April 28 at SVA Theater 1
The screening of the Academy Award®-nominated film WarGames from director John Badham, which uses advances in national security and the vulnerabilities of new technology as the backdrop for a coming-of-age thriller will include a panel after the movie with director John Badham, actress Ally Sheedy, Bitcoin Technical Lead Gavin Andresen, William D. Casebeer, PhD, Program Manager, Defense Sciences Office at DARPA (USAF, retired), and others to discuss the historical relationship between military strategy and technical innovation, storytelling with gaming and simulation tools, and the challenges of depicting cutting-edge technology on the big screen.

Future Weather – Screening and Panel
Sunday, April 29 at SVA Theater 2
The world premiere of Future Weather, inspired by a New Yorker article on global warming, which follows a teenage loner who becomes obsessed with ecological disaster, forcing her alcoholic grandmother to rethink their futures will include a conversation after the film with writer/director Jenny Deller, producer Kristin Fairweather, Future Weather actress Lili Taylor, and others to discuss how an article about a scientific and environmental issue planted the seed for an intimate fiction film and inspired an environmentally sensitive production.

About the Tribeca Film Institute:
The Tribeca Film Institute is a 501(c)3 year round nonprofit arts organization founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of September 11, 2001. TFI empowers filmmakers through grants and professional development, and is a resource and advocate for individual artists in the field. The Institute’s educational programming leverages an extensive film community network to help underserved New York City students learn filmmaking and gain the media skills necessary to be productive citizens and creative individuals in the 21st century. Administering a dozen major programs annually, TFI is a critical contributor to the fabric of filmmaking and aids in protecting the livelihood of filmmakers and media artists.

For more information and a list of all TFI programs visit

Follow us on Twitter @TribecaFilmIns. Join the conversation #scienceandfilm.

About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The New York based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants 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 reach a wide, non-specialized audience.

Sloan’s film program encourages filmmakers to create more realistic and accurate stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers in the popular imagination. In addition to Screenplay Development Programs, Sloan has supported such film projects as Future Weather, a coming of age story about a young woman who finds personal meaning in science, starring Lili Taylor and Amy Madigan (premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival), Valley of Saints and Robot and Frank both of which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and shared the Sloan Feature Film Prize.

The Foundation has sponsored screenwriting and film production workshops at Sundance, the Hamptons, Tribeca, and Film Independent, and honored feature films such as Obselidia, Agora and Another Earth. Sloan also partners with Ensemble Studio Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club in support of new science plays such as Photograph 51, the story of Rosalind Franklin and her role in the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA. For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation please visit

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