Through a partnership between the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the University of Southern California’s graduate film program, screenwriting and production grants are awarded annually to filmmakers. The 2017 winners are Sabina Vajrača, Jeremy Palmer, Joel Santner, and Alyson Weaver Nicholas. Together they have won a total of $75,000 which goes towards two feature film screenplays, and the production of two short films. Each film integrates scientific themes, and the filmmakers will work with practicing scientists on the scientific accuracy of their stories.

Sabina Vajrača is a writer, producer, and director. Her first film was the documentary BACK TO BOSNIA which premiered at AFI Fest and won Director’s Choice at the Crossroads Film Festival. Her winning short film, VARIABLES, is inspired by the true story of a teenager living during the Bosnian War whose way out of the country is by competing at the International Math Olympiad in Canada.

Jeremy Palmer is an actor and writer. He is on the Board of Directors for the Phamalay Theatre Company produces plays featuring actors with disabilities across the spectrum. Palmer’s winning screenplay, THE VALLEY OF DRY BONES, is based on the true story of Dr. Frederick Banting who won a Nobel Prize for discovering insulin.

Joel Santner is a writer and director with a background in theatre. He is an Associated Artist with the theatre company Faction of Fools, a member of the Taffety Punk Theatre Company, and a member of the group TPunk Generator. His winning short film HANGER’S LIMB is inspired by the true story of Civil War veteran James Hanger who invented a prosthetic leg with knee and ankle joints.

Alyson Weaver Nicholas is a writer and stand-up comedian who has performed nation-wide including at the Hollywood Improv Comedy Club. Her winning screenplay THE MARS GENERATION features a ten-year old girl with dreams of exploring Mars. One summer at space camp, “she discovers the true nature of NASA’s human space exploration program and must face the possibility that her generation may never go to Mars. Heartbroken, Emily teams with a group of campers to reignite hope that one day they will walk on the red planet.”

Stay tuned to Science & Film for more on these four projects as they develop.