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The Spark: Forbidden Planet

The familiarity of many of Forbidden Planet’s tropes—a man-made spaceship exploring the galaxy, a story set far from Earth, a robot as a supporting character—can make one forget while watching it today that the film doesn’t merely adhere to conventions; it introduced them. Physicist James Trefil, Robinson Professor of Physics at George Mason University, was [...]

Reel Science: Nymphomaniac

Scientifically speaking, “nymphomania” doesn’t exist. While French doctor M. D. T. Bienville’s first detailed study Nymphomania, or a Dissertation Concerning the Furor Uterinus in 1771 identified many potential causes of excessive sexual desire in women, such as consuming too much chocolate and reading novels, today’s clinicians, doctors and psychiatrists continue to debate whether “hypersexuality”—the more [...]

Reel Science: Noah

“It’s going to destroy the world,” says Russell Crowe’s Noah in Darren Aronofsky’s new biblical epic. Soon, immense torrents of water will fall from the sky, deluges from the ocean will engulf the forests, and gushing floods will drench the land. The flood is one of the enduring myths of human civilization, recounted in Mesopotamian [...]

Panic in Year Zero: We Can Resell You

Without realizing it, we seem to be living in the Golden Age of dystopias. Glance at the rather unthorough Wikipedia entry for dystopian films, and you’ll see that more have been made and released in the last dozen years than in the previous hundred. (The list still leaves out scores of recent qualifiers, including Enki [...]

Sloan News: Science on Screen at BAMcinématek

For three days in March, April, and May, BAMcinématek presents the second edition of Science on Screen, a series that explores the surprising connections between Hollywood fantasy and real-life science. Back by popular demand after its first season at BAM last spring, this program features screenings paired with talks by notable experts in the fields of [...]

Reel Science: Particle Fever

For physics neophytes, Mark Levinson’s documentary Particle Fever is an accessible and entertaining primer on the make-up of the universe. The film not only gives viewers an understanding of complex ideas in theoretical physics, such as why the energy of the elementary Higgs boson matters and why it was dubbed the “God particle,” but it [...]

The Spark: C-3PO and Modern Robotics

“R2-D2, you know better than to trust a strange computer!” C-3PO admonishes his robotic friend in The Empire Strikes Back, the second installment of the original Star Wars trilogy. The idea of computers interacting with one another may have been fodder for jokes at the time, but today, it’s easy to take for granted. Siddhartha [...]

Watch: Fact Checking Gravity

Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity picked up seven Academy Awards on Sunday, making it the night’s big winner even though 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture. For fun, here’s superstar physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (an avowed Gravity fan) poking holes in the film’s science with the help of comedians Eugene Mirman and Michael Ian Black.

Sloan News: Sloan Grand Jury Prize Announced

Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) today announced the recipient of the 2014 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Student Grand Jury Prize for Screenwriting. Survival of the Fittest by Laura Alsum of UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television was selected as the best-of-the-best screenplay from the winning scripts submitted by six leading film schools participating in Sloan’s [...]

Reel Science: Robocop

In science fiction, human beings are frequently pitted against a metallic and mechanized other—manifestations of our culture’s fascination with and fear of technology—from the ominous robot Gort in 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still to the various iterations of the Terminator. Robocop, both the 1987 Paul Verhoeven version and the recently released reboot, locate [...]

Sloan News: Computer Chess and the Independent Spirit Awards

All eyes may be on this weekend’s Academy Awards, but we at Science and Film will be keeping a watch on the Independent Spirit Awards ceremony as Andrew Bujalski’s acclaimed film Computer Chess, supported by two Sloan grants from Sundance and Tribeca Film Institutes, is up for three awards. The film has been nominated for Best [...]

The Spark: Fantastic Voyage

  Fantastic Voyage was released in 1966, the same year that Gene Cernan completed the second spacewalk and Star Trek debuted on NBC. But the film eschewed the space race for a trip inside the human body. Merely summarizing the plot does it no favors. A scientist working in the Soviet Union has discovered the [...]

Science in Theaters: 2/14

The much-anticipated Robocop reboot starring Joel Kinnaman hits theaters today, and I’m sure lovers around the U.S. will be flocking to spend their romantic date nights watching eviscerations and explosions! Reviews haven’t been terribly kind thus far, but I’m still curious to see how it stacks up against Paul Verhoeven’s bitingly satirical original take. Anthony [...]

Video of the Week: Fish on Wheels

The genius of this pretty much speaks for itself.

Reel Science: I Origins

Mike Cahill’s I Origins, which won this year’s Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, opens with a series of extreme close-ups of human eyes. Beautiful, mesmerizing and each utterly distinct, these close-ups make the familiar organ feel like a mystical mix of organic material and precious gemstone. Could such a [...]

Video of the Week: The Science of Sochi

Now that the Super Bowl is (thankfully) out of the way, all eyes in the sporting world will turn to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, which kick off tomorrow night. The arrival of each Olympic Games means, of course, hosts of  glossy puff pieces checking in on the sights and sounds of the host city [...]

Science in Theaters: Madden 25

While there’s likely a big budget glossy studio spectacle with a scientist or robot or alien opening in a theater somewhere in America this weekend, who’s going out to the movies with Super Bowl Sunday looming? Museum of the Moving Image has clearly thought ahead: a few weeks ago they opened a new exhibit entitled [...]

Video of the Week: Ancients

A few weeks ago, writing this column got me thinking about the limits of the seeable, and how science-minded videos of various kinds can use film technology to push well past the feeble limits of the human eye and show us all sorts of wonderful things we could never view on our own. That column [...]

Science in Theaters: 1/24

On the occasion of the release of Stuart Beattie’s I, Frankenstein, USA Today corralled a few horror movie writers to discuss the legacy of Mary Shelley’s signature creation on film. The results are here, and they suggest that Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s monster has proven a more vexing problem for filmmakers than, say, Dracula, who has [...]

Video of the Week: Polar Vortex

Stay warm out there, folks.

Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize Announced

Mike Cahill’s I Origins, starring Michael Pitt, Brit Marling and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey has been awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. This prize is “selected by a jury of film and science professionals and presented to outstanding feature films focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting [...]

Science in Theaters: 1/17

First Look continues this weekend at Museum of the Moving Image. Check out Wavemakers, a documentary about the mysterious Ondes Martenot tonight at 7PM. Here’s a synopsis: One of the most compelling music documentaries in years, Wavemakers delves deeply into the history and legacy of an electronic instrument with a haunting, ethereal sound. Invented in [...]

Video of the Week: Flying Jellyfish

The creation of a “flying jellyfish” that weighs about as much as a quarter and costs less than $15 to produce has been big news in science blogs of late. The creators of this object didn’t set out to create a flying jellyfish; they were looking for a mathematical solution to produce stable hovering flight. [...]

Sloan News: Sloan at Sundance

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival, supported by the Foundation for eleven years, will feature a suite of Sloan events from January 16-26 in Park City, Utah. These include: a Sloan science-in-film panel preceded by a ‘sizzle reel’ of Sloan-winning films; a reception and award ceremony for the Sloan feature film prize, the Sloan commissioning grant and the Sloan [...]

Science in Theaters: 1/10

This weekend sees the opening of Museum of the Moving Image’s invaluable First Look series. Now in its third year, First Look has carved out a niche for itself as a kind of quirky, more experimental cousin to the venerable New York Film Festival. Or, perhaps it’s more accurate to call it the internationally-minded sister [...]

Sloan News: Science on Screen Program Featured at the 2014 Art House Convergence

The 2014 Art House Convergence, which brings together 450 art house cinemas once a year, will feature the Foundation’s Science on Screen initiative in a plenary session on January 15th. The Coolidge Corner Cinema’s Science on Screen series fosters scientific literacy by pairing feature films with introductions by working scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. Sloan has supported the expansion [...]

Science in Theaters: 1/3

At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, the Alfred P. Sloan feature film prize for “outstanding feature films focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character” went to Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess. Bujalski’s film, a smeary and surreal B&W early-video shot look at a group [...]

Sloan News: Brie Larson Stars in Sloan-supported Bollywood Science Musical

Basmati Blues, a Bollywood-style musical about genetically modified rice, supported by a 2007 Sloan grant at Film Independent, was shot in India this summer. The film is currently in post-production and is slated for release in 2014 with Brie Larson, Donald Sutherland, and Tyne Daly starring. Larson, who picked up a Gotham Award for her breakout role [...]

Science in Theaters: 12/20

Though everything about the photo above (save for that creepy moustache) certainly suggests a breezy romantic comedy, anyone reading this blog is probably well aware that it’s actually taken from a science fiction film that some critics are calling “the best film in years.” We haven’t been lucky enough to see Spike Jonze’s Siri-inflected love [...]

Video of the Week: Jade Rabbit

Three days ago, China’s Jade Rabbit rover landed on the moon, marking the first time in four decades that mankind has successfully executed a lunar soft landing. Jade Rabbit will be in operation for about three months, and it wasted no time in beaming pictures back to Earth. There’s been a flood of terrific imagery, [...]

Sloan News: Jeremy Irons Signs on to The Man Who Knew Infinity

Variety recently reported that Jeremy Irons has signed on to co-star in the 2008 Sloan-funded project The Man Who Knew Infinity. The film is to be directed by Matthew Brown, who also wrote the screenplay, and produced by Edward R. Pressman’s Cinemorphic along with Sloan grantee Jim Young’s Animus Films. Dev Patel is set to [...]

Science in Theaters: Indie Games at Museum of the Moving Image

I spent most of Thanksgiving weekend 2013 hunched over my laptop playing video games, a form of entertainment that I haven’t actively engaged with since the heyday of Goldeneye. Though my parents and wife worried about some kind of fundamental regression, it was actually for you, dear readers, that I spent hours navigating dark tunnels, [...]

Video of the Week: Science, Religion, and the Big Bang

I was pleasantly surprised by this short from Minute Physics which I stumbled upon last week while researching Google Glass films. In five minutes, the clip’s creators use simple stick figure animations, augmented with tasteful dashes of computer work and a well-chosen archival photo, to clear up a host of commonly held misconceptions about The [...]

Science in Theaters: 12/6

Moving pictures have shown an interest in Mars since as far back as this 1910 ditty from Thomas Edison: This weekend, Ruiari Robinson’s The Last Days on Mars hits theaters joining a distinguished lineage that includes Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Total Recall, Mission to Mars, Ghosts of Mars and, of course, a personal favorite of [...]

Video of the Week: Google Glass

By now you’ve likely heard of Google Glass, the purportedly revolutionary “smart” eyewear that will change the Way We Live forever. Google’s pair of high-tech spectacles use a tiny prism that beams imagery onto the retina of the wearer (click here for a fuller description of the technology), allowing the user to see floating updates [...]

Video of the Week: A Very Special Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving (or, Thanksgivukkah, as some have dubbed 11/28/13 due to the very rare, once-every-70,000-years confluence of secular and Jewish holidays) is upon us. There’s something of a dearth of good science videos out there about Thanksgiving, but given that the only science usually discussed around turkey day is the old tryptophan debate, this may not [...]

Science in Theaters: Early Computer Movies at MOMI

This weekend, Museum of the Moving Image will host a program of films seemingly tailor-made for readers of Science and Film. It’s called Computer Age: Early Computer Movies, 1952-1987, and it’s comprised of a few features which will be known to many (including Tron and The Last Starfighter) as well as a several programs of rarely screened [...]

Video of the Week: The Incredible Machine

There’s a whole strand of science films that can be loosely classified as “industrial” that I’m hoping to explore in this column as it evolves. Industrials are those films made to illustrate the workings of a recent invention or a commercial application for a new technology;  in essence, nonfiction instructional pieces made to clearly explain [...]


The fourth annual DOC NYC festival is upon us and this year’s edition includes 73 features, most of which are seeing their New York or World Premieres, making it the largest iteration yet. Scanning through the lineup, I don’t see any biographies of famous scientific figures, or films that track the course of a major [...]

Science in Theaters: 11/8

Is there “real” science in Thor: The Dark World? While it is too much to expect the average several hundred million dollar studio abortion to care to get the facts straight when it comes to the laws of physics, the film’s focus on a mysterious “Aether” (a concept hotly debated in Einstein’s day) energy that [...]

Video of the Week: The Animated Life of A.R. Wallace

Today marks the centenary of the death of Arthur Russell Wallace. That name might not ring a bell, but A.R. Wallace was an English naturalist who hit upon a theory of evolution via natural selection at just about the same time as Charles Darwin. In fact, on July 1st of 1858 the pair both presented papers [...]

Science in Theaters: 11/1

The flood of 2013 wide release sci-fi movies continues this weekend with the launch of Ender’s Game, based on the popular Orson Scott Card novel. I’m mainly familiar with this series via the covers of the mass-market paperbacks I’d sift past as a youngster while searching for the latest offerings from Michael Crichton or David [...]

Video of the Week: Slow Motion Animals

It is well-acknowledged by now that the film above, which I linked to in my inaugural Video of the Week post, is one of the most important ancestors of that thing we call “cinema.” In its simple series of frames we can locate the roots of Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Norbit. This short is [...]

Video of the Week: Levitating water drops form spinning stars

Last week’s inaugural Video of the Week, A Boy and His Atom, has had me thinking small of late. Hence this week’s clip: Levitating water drops form spinning stars. Ignore the sub Franz Ferdinand groove on the soundtrack (it’s unclear if the track was supplied by the creators), as what you’re seeing is quite lovely. It’s [...]

Science on Screen Expands

The Coolidge Corner Theatre’s Science on Screen program, which has become a major success both locally and nationally, just announced that twenty more theatres will receive grants to participate in this innovative program. The grantees include independent theaters in Georgia; Florida; New York; Tennessee; New Mexico; and California that will soon launch their own Science [...]

Video of the Week: A Boy and His Atom

I’ve been thoroughly entranced by this little piece of animation since first stumbling upon it a few months back. A Boy and His Atom lasts only a minute and looks like some early 8-bit gaming technology or a perhaps bunch of ball bearings set into motion via stop motion, but what you’re actually seeing are [...]

Upcoming Lecture: Visualizing Scientific Data on the Big Screen

On October 17, The New York Academy of Sciences is putting on what looks to be a fascinating lecture for fans of movies and science. It’s called “Visualizing Scientific Data on the big screen.” Here’s their description: Film is primarily a visual media and communicates on sensory, emotional, and intellectual levels. Science can also be [...]

Defying Gravity: Alfonso Cuarón’s Bearable Weightlessness

Given how much praise critics heaped on Alfonso Cuarón for the seemingly gravity-defying feats of camerawork showcased in Children of Men, perhaps we should have anticipated that his long-gestating follow-up would take place almost wholly in outer space. Why merely defy gravity when you can dispense with it entirely? (And further: what are the narrative [...]

NYFF51: Applied Science

This year’s edition of the venerable New York Film Festival (its 51st!) features an intriguing three-film sidebar for those who enjoy their entertainment with a dash of science. Even though several films in the main selection like Her (artificial intelligence), About Time (time travel), Jimmy P. (psychotherapy/mental illness) and Real (experimental medicine) feature scientific themes, this is [...]

2013 Hamptons Sloan Feature Prize

The winner of the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival is Decoding Annie Parker, directed by Steven Bernstein. Based on a true story, the film follows a woman (Samantha Morton) who is diagnosed with breast cancer, after already losing her mother and sister to the disease, and a geneticist (Helen Hunt) who, after spending years researching the breast-cancer gene, makes a breakthrough discovery. The East Coast premiere of the film will take place at the festival on October 11,  followed by a panel discussion with subject Annie Parker and Bernstein.

Focus World and Screen Media Films acquire A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Focus World, a division of Focus Features, has partnered with Screen Media Films to acquire the U.S. distribution rights to Rob Meyers’s A Birder’s Guide to Everything. The film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013, is slated for release in spring 2014.

New series Brains on Trial will premiere on PBS in September

This new two-part television series with Alan Alda, supported by the Sloan Foundation, explores how the growing ability to separate truth from lies, even decode people’s thoughts and memories, may radically affect how criminal trials are conducted in the future.

Computer Chess at Film Forum

Computer Chess, Andrew Bujalski’s comedy which won the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, opens in New York at Film Forum on Wednesday, July 17. Variety calls the film “an endearingly nutty, proudly analog tribute… about as weird and singular as independent cinema gets.”

The Fly Room Project

Opening July 24 at Pioneer Works in Red Hook NYC, Imagine Science Films will present The Fly Room Project: an interactive exhibit that reconstructs a 1920s laboratory, considered to be the birthplace of modern genetics. The project—which incorporates milk bottles filled with fruit flies, microscopes, and video installations—was created by Alex Gambis who founded the Imagine Science Film Festival. The exhibit will also be used as the set for a forthcoming feature film about the original Fly Room in 1927.

Film Independent selects 22 filmmakers for Fast Track

Film Independent recently announced the 22 filmmakers and 10 projects selected for the annual Fast Track program, an intensive, three-day film-financing market that connects participants with financiers and film industry professionals. The winners, including Christopher Munch, Nikyatu Jusu, and A. Sayeeda Clarke, were announced during the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival at which the Fast Track program takes place.

Dev Patel in Ramanujan’s Lost Notebook

Dev Patel, star of Slumdog Millionaire, will play the legendary mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan in the upcoming biographical film Ramanujan’s Lost Notebook. The film, which was developed with support through the Film Independent Producer’s Lab, will begin shooting in Fall 2013 in both the U.K. and India.

Midnight Sun to start shooting in July 2013

Atomic bomb-drama Midnight Sun, supported in part by Sloan grants at Film Independent and the Tribeca Film Institute, will start shooting next month. The film will be directed by Chris Eigeman, and will star Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Kruger, and Emile Hirsch. Richard Rhodes, a Sloan Foundation grantee and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his book “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” is an advisor on the project.

Sundance/Sloan Commissioning Grant awarded to Young Il Kim

Writer Young Il Kim has been awarded the Sundance Institute’s Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Grant for his original feature script based on the life of physicist Stephen Hawking. Recipients of the grant are awarded funding to further develop their screenplays, with an additional stipend to hire a science advisor.

2013 Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Filmmaker Prize

T​​he 2013 Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Filmmaker Prize has been awarded to Newton’s Laws of Emotion (screenwriter Eugene Ramos and producer Andeep Singh). The project will receive a $10,000 cash prize to support the completion of the film. Newton’s Laws of Emotion follows a young Isaac Newton as he pursues the affections of a headstrong Prussian princess and seeks to uncover the principles of love using his new system of mathematics.

2013 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize

UCLA student Barnett Brettler is the recipient of ​the ​2013 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize for his screenplay Waking Hours. This annual prize celebrates the winning script from Sloan’s six film school partners—AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, and USC. The prize includes a $30,000 grant plus mentorship from scientific experts and film industry professionals, networking opportunities, industry exposure, and an extra $20,000 toward the production of the film. Waking Hours tells the story of a UK border agent who must cross into an infected zone to find the woman he loves.

NYC premiere of A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Rob Meyer’s A Birder’s Guide to Everything—a bird-watching comedy starring Ben Kingsley—had its world premiere at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. The film received Sloan development funding through the Sundance Labs in 2010, and was a TFI-Sloan Filmmaker Fund recipient in 2011.

2013 Tribeca Film Institute-Sloan grants

The Tribeca Film Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have awarded the 2013 TFI-Sloan grants to four projects that integrate science and technology themes. The winners are: 2030, set in a near future Vietnam where seawater has buried a large part of the land and crop cultivation has to be carried out on floating farms; Newton’s Laws of Emotion, about a young Isaac Newton and his romantic and scientific pursuits; Oldest Man Alive, in which a suicidal 88-year-old inventor finds a new reason to live; and Doctor, about a disgraced doctor and medical researcher from India who starts working at an illegal clinic in Queens.

Kino Lorber acquires U.S. rights to Computer Chess

Kino Lorber has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Andrew Bujalski’s comedy Computer Chess, winner of the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. CEO of Kino Lorber, Richard Lorber, said of the film, “We’re going to have a blast bringing this to cross-over audiences of geeky tech lovers, young and old, as well as the indie art house crowd, who will never have seen anything quite like Andrew’s unprecedented fusion of form and content here.” Andrew Bujalski was awarded the Sloan Development Fund at the Tribeca Film Institute. Computer Chess opens in July at Film Forum in New York City. Read a Cinema Scope interview with Andrew Bujalski here.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and The Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation partner to expand Science on Screen

March 14, 2013 What can Night of the Living Dead (1968) tell us about the inner workings of the zombie brain? How did artificial intelligence research inform the “character” of HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)? These are just some of the subjects addressed in Science on Screen, a lively and inventive national [...]

108 Media/Paladin Acquire Sloan Sundance winner Valley of Saints

108 Media and Paladin have jointly acquired worldwide rights to Valley of Saints, winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at Sundance Film Festival in 2012 and recently nominated for Best Cinematography at the Independent Spirit Awards. Congratulations to the director, Musa Syeed, an NYU graduate who lives in the Museum’s neighborhood Astoria, Queens. Valley of Saints is Syeed’s first feature film—he previously co-produced Bronx Princess (Official Selection, Berlinale) and A Son’s Sacrifice (Best Documentary Short, Tribeca), with Valley cinematographer Yoni Brook.

Future Weather premieres in New York

Jenny Deller’s Future Weather—winner of the 2012 Hamptons Sloan Feature Prize—makes its New York premiere on March 1 at reRun Gastropub Theater in Brooklyn, followed by a discussion with special guests including Deller and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Doron Weber. Screenings continue through March 7 with nightly discussions with experts exploring some of the film’s key themes—science, youth empowerment, climate action, and independent filmmaking.

Sundance Institute/Alfred P. Sloan Lab Fellowship awarded to Prodigal Summer

Based on the novel by Nicole Kassell, who also co-wrote the film with Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer is the recipient of the Sundance Institute/Alfred P. Sloan Lab Fellowship. The film weaves together three unexpected love stories through the course of one summer in southern Appalachia. Kassell also directed The Woodsman (2004) and A Little Bit of Heaven (2011).

Computer Chess wins Sundance Award

The 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival has been awarded to Computer Chess. The comedy, set during a 1980s computer chess tournament, was written and directed by Andrew Bujalski, one of the key “Mumblecore” directors whose acclaimed previous films include Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation. The jury presented the award to the film for its “off-beat and formalistically adventurous exploration of questions of artificial intelligence and human connections.”

2012 Hamptons Sloan Feature Prize

The winner of the 2012 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival is Jenny Deller’s Future Weather, a coming-of-age drama that explores the sorrow of saying goodbye to what we love, featuring Lili Taylor, Amy Madigan, and newcomer Perla Haney-Jardine. A panel will follow the screening on October 5, 2012.

TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund 2012 Applications Open

Applications for the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund are open until November 5, 2012. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, in partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute, provides funding for narrative features that are scientifically relevant, accurate, and exciting. For more information, visit Rules and Regulations and FAQs.

Sundance/Sloan Commissioning Grant and Fellowship

Applications are open until September 7, 2012 for the Sundance Institute and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Commissioning Grant and Fellowship. Both provide a cash award to support further development of a screenplay and to retain science advisors, along with overall creative and strategic feedback throughout development.

There Will Be Drilling:
Geology movies seek a balance between romantic adventure and hard science

Consider the maverick volcanologists in Journey to the Center of the Earth and Dante’s Peak—these earth-based scientists are a romanticized lot, often portrayed in movies backpacking through forbidding terrain and fighting against the wilds of nature.

Temma at the Columbia University Film Festival

Anya Meksin was awarded a Sloan Production grant at Columbia in 2009 for Temma. Her short film, about neuro-programmer Temma Baumgarten, who tries to complete a computation model of her own mind while her body succumbs to a degenerative disease, will premiere on May 6, 2012 as part of the Columbia University Film Festival.

2012 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund Winners

Three projects were chosen to receive $150,000 and creative support from TFI, with the goal to help them at any stage move towards completion: Casey Cooper Johnson’s Unmanned (the short version of this film will premiere at this year’s Festival.), Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess, and Dara Bratt’s Resonance.

Future Weather at Tribeca Film Fest

Jenny Deller was awarded the Sloan Producer’s Grant at Film Independent in 2009 and the Sloan Development Fund at the Tribeca Film Institute in 2010 for Future Weather. Her feature will be screened as part of the Tribeca Talks on April 29, 2012, with writer/director Deller, producer Kristin Fairweather, actresses Lili Taylor, Amy Madigan, and Perla Haney-Jardine in person, and more.

Small, Beautifully Moving Parts in theaters

Sloan Feature Film winner at The Hamptons International Film Festival in 2011, Small, Beautifully Moving Parts, is making its theatrical debut in New York City at the Cinema Village on Friday, May 11, 2012 and playing through the week.

Sloan Short Film in Competition at TFF

Ross Cohen’s Willowbrook was awarded a Sloan Production grant at USC in 2010 and is now featured in the official selection at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. Based on true events, the short film tells the story of a young pediatrician in the 1960s who discovers that the Willowbrook State School in Staten Island is conducting Army-funded experiments on developmentally disabled children.

TFI Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize for Screenwriting

Grainger David is the recipient of the 2012 TFI Alfred P. Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize for a Science-Themed Screenplay. He will receive a $50,000 grant for his feature script Penny Stock, which was selected from the winning scripts at six leading film schools participating in Sloan’s National Film Program.

World Science Fest Special Screenings

The festival returns with more than 40 events (May 30–June 3, 2012). The Museum of the Moving Image’s two programs explore the complex relationship between people and machines. The screenings of The Creator and Sloan winner Robot and Frank will be followed by discussions with experts in artificial intelligence and robotics.

Sloan Spotlights WarGames at TFF

To celebrate the ’80s classic, Tribeca Film Festival will have a special screening and conversation with director John Badham, actress Ally Sheedy, Bitcoin Technical Lead Gavin Andresen and William D. Casebeer, PhD, Program Manager, Defense Sciences Office at DARPA (USAF, retired), sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation on Saturday, April 28, 2012.

Changing Times:
The hopeful perspectives of Sundance Sloan winners Robot & Frank and Valley of Saints

A robot helps an elderly man in the “near future” of upstate New York; a rural boatman in the lake region of conflict-ravaged Kashmir learns about environmental sustainability.

2012 Winners of Sundance Prize

Robot and Frank, directed by Jake Schreier and written by Christopher Ford, and Valley of Saints, directed and written by Musa Syeed, have each been awarded the 2012 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and will split the $20,000 cash award by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

2012 Sundance Film Festival Program

Valley of Saints will premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Writer/director Musa Syeed was awarded a Sloan Production grant at NYU in 2009. Robot and Frank will also premiere at Sundance this year. Screenwriter Christopher Ford was awarded a Sloan Production grant at NYU in 2003. Congratulations to both!

2011 Sloan Grant Winners

The names of 2011 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant recipients for screenwriting and production have been announced by Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia, NYUUCLA, and USC, and added to our website. You can learn more about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation film school program here. You can also join the Sloan Community on Facebook.

Hamptons Festival Screenwriter Lab

Submissions are now open for the 2012 Hamptons International Film Festival’s Screenwriter Lab. In collaboration with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Lab seeks screenplays that explore science, technology, mathematics, invention, and engineering in fresh and innovative ways. Details on the application process and information on past grantees is available here.

Sloan Summit 2011 by Dan O’Neil

Gathering together all the winners of Sloan awards over the past three years, the Sloan Film Summit 2011 serves to bring the finest and brightest filmmakers together for three days and nights in New York, serve them lots of wine and appetizers, and encourage them to encourage and inspire each other. For a screenwriter, the sensation is that of having fuel thrown over our small flame of a script.

Sloan Summit 2011 by Morgan von Ancken

My final impression is that the Sloan Summit is a wonderful, vital gathering. The content of the panels and screenings was excellent, and the chance to meet like-minded filmmakers in such a welcoming, well-catered environment was incredible, really perhaps the best part of the weekend. In fact, I’m already looking forward to next year.

Film Independent’s Producers Grant

Film Independent has announced the 11 filmmakers and 9 projects selected for its 11th annual Producers Lab. The 5th annual Sloan Producers Grant went to Brent Hoff and Malcom Pullinger, who are participating in the Producers Lab with their feature film project El Diablo Rojo. They will receive a $25,000 development grant.

The Cognitive Science Movie Index

The Cognitive Science Movie Index is a broad list of movies that showcase various themes in the Cognitive Sciences, compiled for entertainment and reference purposes. It was first created in 2005 in the Department of Cognitive Science at UCSD. If you feel that a film has been omitted, you can recommend a movie.

2011 Hamptons Sloan Feature Prize

The winner of the 2011 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival is Lisa Robinson and Annie Howell’s Small, Beautifully Moving Parts. In this charming comedy, a pregnant "freelance technologist" questions her readiness to become a parent. Passionate about technology, Sarah is at a loss when faced with questions lacking an empirical solution.

An update on Robot and Frank

Christopher Ford was awarded a Sloan Production grant at NYU in 2003 for Robot and Frank now an comedy directed by Jake Schreier, featuring Liv Tyler, James Marsden, Susan Sarandon, Liev Schreiber (as the voice of the robot), and Frank Langella. The story follows Frank, an old man who is starting to forget things. One day his son brings him a special surprise, a caretaker robot.

Sundance/Sloan Commissioning Grant

The Sundance Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation offer an annual commissioning grant, including a cash award, a stipend for a science advisor, and creative support, to a science or technology-themed narrative project at an early stage (full treatment or screenplay draft). Deadline for submissions is September 9, 2011. More details can be found here.

Special screening of Another Earth

On Friday June 3rd, the Museum of the Moving Image will host a special screening of Another Earth for the World Science Festival, followed by a Sloan Science and Film Dialogue with Brit Marling (Co-writer and Actress), Mike Cahill (Director and Co-writer), and Brian Greene (Columbia University).

Imagine Science Film Festival 2011

The 4th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival will be held in New York City from October 14-21. Submissions are open until August 15. Films compete for the $2,500 Nature Scientific Merit Award, the $1,000 Nature Audience Award, and the $1,000 AAAS Scientist Award. The opening night will be held at the Museum of Moving Image.

TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund 2011

The Tribeca Film Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have awarded $140,000 to six projects that dramatize science and technology. Out of a total of 121 applicants, the recipients will receive year-round mentorship from science experts and members of the film industry with the goal to help their projects move towards completion.

Sloan at 2011 Tribeca Film Festival

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is sponsoring three events during the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival: a tenth anniversary screening of A Beautiful Mind; a celebration of the projects selected to receive $140,000 in grants from the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, at the TFI Awards Ceremony; and a presentation of the Sloan Works-in-Progress, featuring select scenes from grantee projects.

2010 Sloan Grant Winners

The names of 2010 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant recipients for screenwriting and production have been announced by Carnegie Mellon University, NYU, UCLA, and USC, and added to our website. You can learn more about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation film school program here. You can also join the Sloan Community on Facebook.

Another Earth Wins Sundance Prize

The 2011 Sloan Prize at the Sundance Film Festival has been awarded to Another Earth, directed by Mike Cahill and co-written by Cahill and Brit Marling. The sci-fi drama was selected “for its original use of a subtly rendered scientific concept—the sudden appearance of an alternate Earth where everyone may be living parallel lives and destinies—to explore the themes of remorse and forgiveness.”

Film Independent’s Producers Grant

Film Independent has awarded its 4th annual Sloan Producers Grant to Nicholas Bruckman for his feature film project Valley of Saints. Written and directed by Musa Syeed and produced by Bruckman, Valley of Saints tells the story of a young Kashmiri boatman who tries to flee his war-torn, environmentally devastated homeland.

Award Winning Short Films

Newly posted to our collection of Sloan award-winning shorts: Jonathan Sanden’s Extropy, Dipesh Jain’s 11 Weeks. Also check out the trailers for Chris Farrington’s Signal, Jeremy Craig’s Terrebonne, and Joseph Singer’s Stereopsis.