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Delta Joins Starlight as a Sloan Student Prize Winner

Museum of the Moving Image and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are excited to announce the recipient of the 2021 Sloan Student Discovery Prize: Juli Jackson for their scripted series DELTA. DELTA will be celebrated, together with the Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize winner STARLIGHT, at a virtual event hosted by Museum of the Moving Image on January 19, 2022.

Created to celebrate outstanding feature film screenplays or series that integrate science or technology into realistic, compelling, and timely stories, the Sloan Student Prizes also aim to support film development and advance the careers of diverse, emerging filmmakers as they transition out of graduate school and into the film industry. Each winner will receive $20,000, industry exposure, and mentorship from a film industry professional and science advisor.

DELTA and STARLIGHT were chosen by a jury from nominations by 12 esteemed film programs nationwide. The Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize is awarded to the best-of-the-best science-themed screenplay from those nominated by six of the nation’s top film schools—American Film Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, New York University, University of Southern California, and University of California, Los Angeles—that have year-round awards programs with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for narrative works dramatizing scientific or technological themes and characters. STARLIGHT is written by Marisa Torelli-Pedevska, a student at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. The Sloan Student Discovery Prize, established in 2019 by the Tribeca Film Institute and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is open to nominations from six public universities with established film programs. The schools are: Brooklyn College Feirstein School of Cinema; Florida State University; SUNY Purchase School of Film and Media Studies; Temple University; University of Texas at Austin; and University of Michigan. DELTA is written by Juli Jackson from Temple University.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to shine a light on the science of agriculture and land management as it is a way of life for so many,” said Jackson in response to the win. “The stories in DELTA are drawn from my personal experiences growing up in a small farming community in Arkansas as well as family stories that have been passed down. Winning this award feels like a first step to being able to share these stories with a much larger audience.”

The all-women jury that chose both winners included: actress Cara Seymour (RADIUM GIRLS, THE KNICK); producer Natalie Qasabian (SEARCHING, RUN); Cinetic’s Head of Tracking Alexis Galfas; Princeton University Historian of Technology Dr. Emily Thompson; Cornell Tech Interaction Design Specialist Dr. Wendy Ju; and marine biochemist Dr. Bethanie Edwards of University of California, Berkeley. About DELTA, the jury said, "For its richly drawn characters and ambitious storytelling, we are pleased to award the 2021 Sloan Student Discovery Prize to DELTA, a limited series by Juli Jackson. DELTA, which traces the intersecting lives of farming families in rural Arkansas over the past century, is a cinematic and vibrant story that brings the land to life as a character, foregrounding the role of agricultural science and land management in connections between people, place, and history."

Both winners will be celebrated at a ceremony taking place online on January 19, 2022. Excerpted readings of each screenplay will follow the awards presentation.


Screenwriter: Juli Jackson (Temple University)
Logline: A farm worker with a deep connection to the land meets an out-of-town biologist in a rural community. In order to change farming practices for the better, they must combat small-town prejudice rooted through generations.
About the filmmaker: Juli Jackson is a Temple University Film and Media Arts Fellow who creates narratives about how art and creativity can save the individual and impact others forever. Recipient of the Arkansas Arts Council Independent Film Initiative Grant, Jackson’s first feature film 45RPM, which blends live action and hand-painted animation, won multiple awards and is distributed by BrinkVision. Jackson is developing their TV series, Delta, based on their experiences growing up in rural Arkansas as well as finishing a proof of concept short film by the same name.

The winner of the 2021 SLOAN STUDENT GRAND JURY PRIZE:

Screenwriter: Marisa Torelli-Pedevska (University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts)
Logline: When a young female scientist arrives at the University of Cambridge in 1919, she must choose whether to follow the rules or change the game altogether. Inspired by the life and career of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin.
About the filmmaker: Torelli-Pedevska is a USC MFA screenwriting candidate who writes about belonging—the thing we’re all searching for. She is a Jay Roach Endowed Scholar, recipient of the USC Sloan Screenwriting Award, and the co-founder of Inevitable Foundation, a nonprofit that funds and mentors disabled screenwriters. She will never admit that her favorite pastime is endlessly rewatching TV shows from the early 2000s that stole her heart and inspired her to become a storyteller.

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