Celebrating our 2019 Sloan Student Winners

Last night we announced our 2019 Sloan Student winners at a celebration in lower Manhattan. Since 2011, we’ve partnered with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in its nationwide program to encourage student filmmakers to create more realistic and compelling scripted films about science and technology!

To date, the Sloan Foundation has awarded more than $4.75 million in grants to student filmmakers across the country. TFI’s Sloan Student recipients receive financial grants, industry and scientific mentorship, and year-round support from the Tribeca Film Institute.

The recipient of the 2019 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize, an award for the “best of the best” screenplay from the six leading film schools supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, went to Carnegie Mellon grad Anderson Cook with his project James Thomas Thinks The Earth Is Flat.

The film follows a 12-year-old aspiring physicist, Noah Roberson, who can’t seem to get anybody in his neighborhood to care about science, until NBA All-Star (and notorious flat-earther) James Thomas has been struck by the “yips” and suddenly, inexplicably, the two are launched into an improbable partnership.

Additionally, our new Sloan Student Discovery Award went to Andrew Rodriguez, who is currently in his final year in the Film Conservatory at SUNY Purchase, for his series Plus. The Sloan Student Discovery Award was created in 2019 to include six new schools and elevate even more voices.

is a coming-of-age story centered around New York City college student Zaire Ruiz, who has life under control, from college to boys, until he is suddenly diagnosed with HIV, a condition that still carries a heavy social stigma.

Finally, the Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize Honorable Mention went to Jamil Munoz, a current MFA candidate in directing at Columbia University, for his series Baretia. Baretia tells the true story of Jeanne Baret, the first woman to complete a circumnavigation of the world – a journey taken while in disguise as a man and in the employ of her lover, the naturalist Philibert Commerson.

“TFI is proud to support these new screenwriting talents who are illuminating science and technology through the lens of creative storytelling,” says Amy Hobby, Executive Director of TFI. “The inclusion of six new partner schools, in addition to the six schools in the Sloan Film Program, expands this incredible opportunity to an even wider network of students and audiences.”

Thank you to our incredible juries of esteemed industry and science professionals: Anne Hubbell (Vice President of Motion Picture, Kodak; Co-Founder of Tangerine Entertainment, the first production company focused on media by women directors), Francine Kershaw (NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection Project and Oceans Program), Janna Levin (Director of Sciences and Chair of the Science Studios at Pioneer Works), Alysia Reiner (Actress, Ambassador/Geena Davis Institute for Gender Equality, Time’s Up), Angie Wang (Level Forward, Fork Films, Peace is Loud), Dr. R. Gabriela Barajas-Gonzalez (developmental psychologist, with a focus on the  prevention of mental health problems and promotion of academic achievement and health in children from immigrant and ethnic minorities), Dascha Polanco (award winning actress, Board of Directors for the Starfish Foundation, which provides financial support to hardworking young women in need of the resources necessary to succeed), Shawn Snyder (filmmaker, recipient of the 2016 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize, NYU/Alfred P. Sloan First Feature Award winner), and Olivia Wingate (Producer, Co-Founder of Mo Studios, a New York based production company with a focus on female and underserved voices).