2023 Sloan Student Prize Finalists and Mentors Announced

Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have recently announced finalists for the 2023 Sloan Student Prizes, as reported by Variety. The prestigious awards recognize two outstanding screenplays for feature films or scripted series, written by emerging filmmakers nominated by university film programs from across the country, that integrate science or technology themes and characters into dramatic stories. All nine of the current finalists identify as women or non-binary.

Established in 2011 (Grand Jury Prize) and expanded in 2019 (Discovery Prize), the Sloan Student Prizes aim to advance the professional paths of diverse, emerging filmmakers as they transition out of school and into the film industry. Both the Sloan Student Grand Jury and Discovery Prizes come with a cash prize of $20,000 and year-round, dedicated mentorship from a scientist and film industry professional.

This is the third ear the Sloan Student Prizes are administered by Museum of the Moving Image, as part of the Museum’s wider Sloan Science & Film initiative and its ongoing endeavor to foster the work of emerging artists, a path that leads from media education for youth to spaces for creative collaboration and to artist recognition and industry participation. In the spirit of both institutions’ goals, every student finalist has the opportunity to workshop their script with an industry writing mentor prior to jury deliberation. Several of the mentors (Jenny Halper, Robert Brooks Cohen, and Colin West) are previous Sloan grantees themselves.

“We are proud to partner with Museum of the Moving Image and to continue honoring the best-of-the-best screenplays from our partner film schools while also discovering new screenwriters who integrate science and technology into their work,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Sloan Foundation. “These exceptional screenwriters will receive guidance from seasoned film industry professionals, three of whom are previous Sloan winners, and we look forward to seeing the final outcome of their exciting screenplays.”

“This year’s slate of nominees is a diverse group of writers grappling with the impact of timely issues including food scarcity, artificial intelligence and its impact on relationships, science education, and historical injustice in the sciences. We are grateful to our stellar writing mentors and to the Sloan Foundation for making these impactful awards possible,” said Sonia Epstein, Executive Editor of Sloan Science & Film and MoMI Curator of Science and Technology.

Winners will be announced once selected by a jury of scientists and film industry professionals, currently set to deliberate in December. The winning filmmakers will be honored at an awards ceremony at MoMI in January, with work-in-progress readings to be showcased as part of the Museum’s First Look Festival in spring 2024.

See below for 2023 finalists and writing mentors.

Nominated by six graduate film programs that have year-round partnerships with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to award screenplay grants for science-themed narratives.

ONE ART by Meg Dudley (Feature)
American Film Institute (AFI)

TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA by Sally Seitz (Feature)
Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama

KILLING JAR by Vivienne Shaw (Feature)
Columbia University

NYU Tisch School of the Arts

NOVAS by Molly Lindsey (Pilot)
UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

LA FORZA by Justine Beed (Pilot)
USC School of Cinematic Arts

Nominated by public film programs without year-round screenplay development partnerships with the Sloan Foundation.

CREATING EVOLUTION by Arden Walentowski (Feature)
Brooklyn College Feirstein School of Cinema

SYNCING by Liv Jonsé (Pilot)
Florida State University

POTENTIAL by Noor Nounou (Feature)
University of Michigan

THE GARDEN by Lara Palmqvist (Feature)
University of Texas at Austin

The 2023 Sloan Student Prize writing mentors:
Guidance from the following five film industry professionals will inform the finalists’ script revisions as they prepare their scripts for jury consideration. The jury will be announced in fall/winter 2023.

Robert Brooks Cohen is a writer and content creator living in Los Angeles. He spent seven seasons writing for LAW & ORDER: SVU and one season for BAR KARMA, among other shows. In 2019, he created Two Bi Guys, a podcast about sexual fluidity, masculinity, and the gender spectrum, which he continues to host and produce. His first book, Bisexual Married Men: Stories of Relationships, Acceptance, and Authenticity, is set to be published by Routledge in November 2023. Robert received his MFA in 2009 from the Department of Dramatic Writing at NYU Tisch. He is an award-winning screenwriter with grants and prizes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Hamptons International Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival, The Gotham Film & Media Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, and more.

Flora Greeson is a Los Angeles-based screenwriter whose first feature, THE HIGH NOTE starring Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross, was released by Universal and Working Title in 2020. A graduate of NYU Tisch's Cinema Studies program, Flora has projects in development with Universal, Paramount, and Netflix. She is currently writing PRINCESS DIARIES 3 for Disney with Anne Hathaway attached to star.

Jenny Halper is Maven Screen Media’s Director of Production and Development, and has worked on films including THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, THE WHISTLEBLOWER, BERNIE, STILL ALICE, FREAK SHOW and AMERICAN HONEY. A graduate of Northwestern and Emerson, where she received a 2008 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Grant, she is an Athena List winner, an Our Stories Emerging Writer Award winner, a Pushcart Prize nominee, a Sloan Grantee, and her story collection was a finalist for the 2015 St. Lawrence Book Prize A founding member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, she is the former film editor of SPARE CHANGE NEWS and has written about film for the Boston Phoenix, Women on Film, New England Film, Nylon Magazine, and others.

Casimir Nozkowski is a filmmaker whose work has been written about in The New York Times and featured on THE TONIGHT SHOW, NBC, MSNBC, PBS, AMC, IFC, and NPR. The son of two abstract visual artists, Casimir co-created the landmark viral video phenomenon, CRYING WHILE EATING and has written, directed and/or edited over 100 short films – which have premiered at places like Sundance, Telluride, Tribeca and Hot Docs. He was an original board member of the renowned film festival, Rooftop Films and wrote and produced the first ever trailer for the Emmy-winning drama MAD MEN, the final trailer for Emmy-winner BREAKING BAD, and multiple Promax award-winning ad campaigns in between. Casimir wrote and directed his first feature film THE OUTSIDE STORY which stars Brian Tyree Henry, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released by Samuel Goldwyn Films. It is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and is now on Hulu. Recent work includes being selected as a Narrative fellow at the 2021 Almanack Screenwriters Lab for his feature script, INTERGALACTIC DIFFERENCES and writing the short horror film, GO TO BED RAYMOND for 20th Century Digital, premiering on Hulu in 2022 and at the Overlook Film Festival in 2023.

Colin West is an award-winning writer & director from Columbus, Ohio now based in LA & NYC. His feature film credits include LINOLEUM starring Jim Gaffigan, Rhea Seehorn, Katelyn Nacon, Amy Hargreaves, Michael Ian Black and Tony Shalhoub, which world premiered at SXSW Film Festival in 2022 (Grand Jury Prize nominee) and DOUBLE WALKER co-written by and starring Sylvie Mix, which was released in 2021. His films have screened internationally at festivals including SXSW, BFI London Film Festival, Fantasia, San Francisco International Film Festival, and Cleveland Film Festival, among many others. He was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Science in Cinema Prize at SFFILM in 2022, a New York Times critic’s pick in 2023, and was an Annenberg Foundation MFA Fellow at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. He also heads up the film education website, publicfilmarchive.com.

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