Sundance Institute and Alfred P. Sloan Mark 10th Anniversary of Collaboration

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by Sydney Levine
February 2, 2013 9:30 AM
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Members of the Sloan Jury at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, chosen by the Sundance Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, also participated in the Science in Film Forum Panel at the Festival. The members of the 2013 Sloan Jury were: Paula Apsell (Senior Executive Producer, Nova and Nova ScienceNow, Director, WGBH Science Unit), Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Fountain, Pi), Scott Burns (writer, Contagion, Pu-239, The Informant and producer, An Inconvenient Truth), Dr. André Fenton (Professor of Neural Science at the Center for Neural Science at New York University), Dr. Lisa Randall (Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science, Harvard University, author of Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World).

2013 marks the 10th Anniversary of the Alfred P. Sloan Science in Film initiative, a collaboration between Sundance Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support the development and presentation of film projects that explore science and technology ideas, or depict scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in engaging new ways. Activities include the Science in Film Forum, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the Sloan Commissioning Grant, and the Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said, “Scientists, engineers, mathematicians are – like  filmmakers - some of the most imaginative and adventurous thinkers of our time, and the Alfred P. Sloan Science in Film initiative has fostered awareness of and engagement with these fascinating themes in independent film for the last 10 years.”

"We are thrilled to celebrate our tenth anniversary with Sundance, which has been such a great partner in our nationwide effort to encourage filmmakers to engage with science and technology themes and characters,” said Doron Weber, Vice President, Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Anyone who looks at the incredible list of winning films, from Shane Carruth's Primer and Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man to Jake Scheirer’sRobot and Frank and Musa Syeed's Valley of Saints—or at the amazing screenplays that have been developed through the Sloan Fellowship at Sundance Institute Labs and the Sloan Commissioning Grant—will see that science and technology can reveal the human condition in ways previously unseen and undreamt of."

For more information about the Science in Film initiative, along with updated content, a complete list of supported filmmakers, trailers for completed films, and an interview with Jake Schreier (director, Robot and Frank, 2012 Sloan Prize Winner), visit www.sundance.org/science-in-film.

Feature Film Prize Jury

The Sloan Jury determines the recipient of the Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival which is presented to an outstanding Festival feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character. The Prize includes a $20,000 cash award by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Previous Alfred P. Sloan Prize Winners include: Jake Schreier and Christopher Ford, Robot & Frank, and Musa Syeed, Valley of Saints (2012); Mike Cahill and Brit Marling, Another Earth (2011); Diane Bell, Obselidia(2010); Max Mayer, Adam (2009); Alex Rivera, Sleep Dealer (2008); Shi-Zheng Chen, Dark Matter (2007); Andrucha Waddington, The House of Sand (2006); Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man (2005), Shane Carruth, Primer(2004) and Marc Decena, Dopamine (2003). Several past winners have also been awarded Jury Awards at the Festival, including the Grand Jury Prize for Primer, the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for Sleep Dealer and the Excellence in Cinematography Award for Obselidia.

Science in Film Forum Panel

The Science in Film Forum Panel takes place at Sundance Film Festival on January 22 at 2:30 p.m. MT at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City. Sloan Jurors Aronofsky, Burns, Dr. Fenton and Dr. Randall will engage in conversation with moderator Paula Apsell.

Juror and Panelist Bios

Paula Apsell

As Director of the WGBH Science Unit and Senior Executive Producer of the PBS science series NOVA, Paula Apsell has overseen the production of hundreds of acclaimed science documentaries, including such distinguished miniseries as The Fabric of the Cosmos with Brian Greene, Origins with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Making Stuff with David Pogue and the magazine spin-off NOVA scienceNOW. NOVA is the nation’s most watched science series, a top site on pbs.org, and recipient of every major broadcasting honor, including the Emmy®, the Peabody®, and the duPont-Columbia Gold Baton. Paula has won numerous individual awards and has served on many boards including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. She was recently journalist in residence at UC Santa Barbara’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Darren Aronofsky

Academy Award® Nominated Director Darren Aronofsky was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His most recent film, Black Swan, won Natalie Portman the Academy Award® for Best Actress and received four other nominations, including Best Picture. The film received scores of other accolades, appeared on over 200 critical Top Ten lists, and swept the 2011 Independent Spirit Award with wins for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Cinematography. Prior to Black Swan, Darren directed The Wrestler. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival where it won the esteemed Golden Lion making it only the third American film in history to win this grand prize. He also directed The Fountain, starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, and Requiem for a Dream, which was named to over 150 Top Ten lists. Darren’s first feature, π, won the Director’s Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. He is currently at work on Noah, based on the biblical story of Noah’s ark. Among his honors, the American Film Institute gave Darren the prestigious Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal, the Stockholm Film Festival presented him the Golden Horse Visionary Award, and he has won three Independent Spirit Awards.

Scott Z. Burns

Scott Burns is screenwriter, director and producer. He wrote the original screenplay for Contagion, directed by Steven Soderbergh, starring Matt Damon, penned the screen adaptation of Soderbergh's The Informant! and co-wrote the Academy Award® winning Bourne Ultimatum, directed by Paul Greengrass. He was a producer on An Inconvenient Truth, the Academy Award® winning documentary, for which he received the Humanitas Prize and the Stanley Kramer Award from the Producers Guild of America. Scott recently completed production on Side Effects, a psychological thriller, slated for release in early 2013. It stars Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta Jones and Channing Tatum and is again directed by Steven Soderbergh with Scott writing and producing along with Greg Jacobs and Lorenzo Di Bonaventura. Currently, Scott is writing The Library, a stage play based on the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School with Steven Soderbergh directing and Kennedy/Marshall producing. The play is under development at the Public Theater in New York City. Scott began his career in advertising and was part of the creative team responsible for the original "Got Milk?" campaign. His advertising work has been recognized by the Clio Awards, the Cannes Film Festival, and the New York Film Festival.

Dr. André Fenton

Dr. André Fenton, is a neuroscientist, biomedical engineer and entrepreneur working on three related problems: how brains store information in memory; how brains coordinate knowledge to selectively activate relevant information and suppress irrelevant information; and how to record electrical activity from brain cells in freely-moving subjects. André and colleagues identified PKMzeta as the first memory storage molecule, a discovery identified by Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s journal, as one of the ten most important breakthroughs in all the science reported in 2006. Recordings of electrical brain activity in André’s lab are elucidating the physiology of cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia. It was recently discovered that preemptive cognitive training during adolescence changes the brain sufficiently to prevent the adult brain dysfunction and cognitive impairments that arises from brain damage during early life in a schizophrenia-related animal model. André is a Professor of Neural Science at New York University’s Center for Neural Science. He founded Bio-Signal Group Corp., which is developing an inexpensive, miniature wireless EEG system for functional brain monitoring of patients in emergency medicine applications and other clinical scenarios.

Dr. Lisa Randall

Dr. Lisa Randall studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology at Harvard University where she is Frank J. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science. Her research connects theoretical insights addressing puzzles in our current understanding of the properties of matter, the universe, and space. Dr. Randall is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees. Professor Randall was included in Time Magazine's “100 Most Influential People” of 2007, was among Esquire Magazine's “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century," and was one of 40 people featured in “The Rolling Stone 40th Anniversary issue" in 2008. Dr. Randall's two books, Warped Passages (2005) and Knocking on Heaven’s Door (2011) were featured on the lists of New York Times 100 Most Influential Books. Her ebook, Higgs Discovery: The Power of Empty Space, was published last summer.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Founded in 1934, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a non-profit philanthropy that makes grants in science, technology and economic performance. This Sloan-Sundance partnership forms part of a broader national program by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to stimulate leading artists in film, television, and theater; to create more realistic and compelling stories about science and technology; and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in the popular imagination. Over the past decade, the Foundation has partnered with some of the top film schools in the country – including AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, and USC – and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production and an annual first-feature award for alumni. The Foundation has also started an annual Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival and initiated new screenwriting and film production workshops at the Hamptons and Tribeca Film Festival and with Film Independent. As more finished films emerge from this developmental pipeline—four features were completed this year, with half a dozen more on deck—the foundation has also partnered with the Coolidge Corner Theater and the Arthouse Convergence to screen science films in up to 40 theaters nationwide. The Foundation also has an active theater program and commissions over a dozen science plays each year from the Ensemble Studio Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club and Playwright Horizons.

The Sundance Film Festival®

A program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®, the Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most ground-breaking films of the past two decades, including sex, lies, and videotape, Maria Full of Grace, The Cove, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Precious, Trouble the Water, and Napoleon Dynamite, and through its New Frontier initiative, has showcased the cinematic works of media artists including Isaac Julien, Doug Aitken, Pierre Huyghe, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Matthew Barney. The 2013 Sundance Film Festival® sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – HP, Acura, Sundance Channel and Chase Sapphire PreferredSM; Leadership Sponsors – DIRECTV, Entertainment Weekly, FOCUS FORWARD, a partnership between GE and CINELAN, Southwest Airlines, Sprint and YouTube; Sustaining Sponsors – Adobe, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., CÎROC Ultra Premium Vodka, FilterForGood®, a partnership between Brita® and Nalgene®, Hilton HHonors and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Intel Corporation, L'Oréal Paris, Recycled Paper Greetings, Stella Artois® and Time Warner Inc. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations will defray costs associated with the 10-day Festival and the nonprofit Sundance Institute's year-round programs for independent film and theatre artists. www.sundance.org/festival.

Sundance Institute

Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a global, nonprofit cultural organization dedicated to nurturing artistic expression in film and theater, and to supporting intercultural dialogue between artists and audiences. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to unite, inform and inspire, regardless of geo-political, social, religious or cultural differences. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival and its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America. Join Sundance Institute on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

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