The Tribeca Film Institute-Sloan Foundation Student Grand Jury Prize has been awarded to Shawn Snyder’s script TO DUST. This dark comedy is a buddy film about a Hassidic man in mourning for his wife who learns about the science of decomposition, and finds solace in that research, from a college biology professor. The Student Grand Jury Prize is a $30,000 cash award which includes year-round mentorship from a film industry professional and a science advisor. TO DUST was also awarded a $100,000 production grant from the Sloan Foundation in November, 2015 and Snyder was subsequently interviewed by Science & Film.
Shawn Snyder, upon hearing he had won the prize, said to Science & Film:
"With TO DUST, what began largely as an intellectual challenge–can I craft a scientific story with emotionally resonant underpinnings, in which the scientific inquiry and discovery are key, not secondary, to the emotional catharsis?–quickly became an acutely personal and intensely passionate vision, an opportunity to process a significant loss of my own, and a film that I simply have to make.
This story would never exist without that challenge from Sloan, and for that alone I am grateful. The further reality of actually getting to make the film, at this juncture, would also not be possible without their generous production grant. And to now learn that we've won the Student Grand Jury Prize is a wholly unforeseen gift. I'm rendered speechless, indebted and ecstatic."
The Student Grand Jury Prize is a best-of-the-best award from the Sloan Foundation’s Film Program which supports six film schools across the country. Each school awards funds to feature film scripts which highlight science or technology themes or characters. Shawn Snyder is a graduate film student at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. The 2016 Student Grand Jury Prize was awarded by a jury of acclaimed scientists and film industry professionals: Science Channel’s Marc Etkind, actress Emily Mortimer, Radiolab’s Latif Nasser, actor Paul Schneider, and stem cell researcher Nina Tandon.
The Student Grand Jury Prize was awarded at a ceremony on March 24, 2016. The University of California, Los Angeles MFA screenwriter Jennifer Edwards has been given Honorable Mention for her script FAMILY BREW. The film is about microbiology. The mention includes support from the Tribeca Film Institute. This is the third time since the Student Grand Jury Prize was created in 2012 a UCLA student has received support.
With the financial support provided by the Foundation going toward production, Shawn Snyder aims to shoot TO DUST in fall 2016.