The Latest From TFI/Sloan Alumni

Each year, we work closely with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to engage filmmakers whose projects offer fresh takes on themes of science, math, and technology. We’re thrilled to share a few updates from alumni who have received additional support from TFI and Sloan.

First up, we’ve selected three alumni to receive microgrants through the The TFI Sloan Discretionary Fund. Any key team member (writer, director, or producer) of a TFI Sloan Filmmaker or Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize supported project may apply for funding that will elevate and propel their projects forward. Meet the 2019 winners below:

BOLICHICOS (TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, 2019)

In 2006 Venezuela, a privileged 20-year-old recruits the maid’s strait-laced son to carry out a currency exchange scam, earning them millions by exploiting the country's poorest - but their insatiable greed turns brother against brother. Inspired by true events.

Director/Screenwriter: Juan Avella
Producer: Diego Nájera
Impact: The award will be used to send producer Diego Nájera to 2020’s IFFR Pro – Rotterdam Lab. One of the top industry markets in the world, IFFR Pro is a five-day training workshop and co-production market for producers seeking international co-productions and financing for their films.

ADVENTURES OF A MATHEMATICIAN (TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, 2017) 

The warmhearted true story of Polish immigrant and mathematician Stan Ulam, who moved to the U.S. in the 1930s. Stan deals with the difficult losses of family and friends all while helping to create both the hydrogen bomb and the first computer.​​

Director/Screenwriter: Thor Klein
Producers: Lena Vurma, Joanna Szymanska
Impact: First provided a grant for development and research through TFI/Sloan, the film completed production in 2018. The alumni fund will provide funding to support localized and curated screenings during a future US release to create in-depth conversations around Stan Ulam and his legacy. 

ADVENTURES OF A MATHEMATICIAN will premiere in January 2020 at the Palm Spring International Film Festival.

INVISIBLE ISLANDS (TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, 2017) 

From fermenting cider to decomposing bodies, this comedic neo-noir anthology series set in Butte, Montana takes a deep dive into the magical world of microbes. When her academic advisor disappears, Siobhan, a Trinidadian-born, Queens-bred overachiever, unites a motley crew of regulars at the Brewer's Notch to investigate his demise; in so doing they transform their decrepit cider house into a scientific, cultural and culinary mecca while accidentally unearthing an environmental conspiracy that stretches back decades.

Director/Screenwriter: Emily Lobsenz
Impact: Workshopped at TFI/Sloan’s TV Writer’s Lab in 2017, the project was then selected for early development funding. The alumni fund will support the packaging,  pitching and forming of connections to television creators, networks and studios.

Photo Credit: Darvin Morales

In other Sloan alumni news, 2019 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund grantee ASIA A held a screenplay reading in Los Angeles to showcase their updated script to a full house of industry and peers. ASIA A follows a college basketball player who, after suffering a spinal cord injury, struggles between hoping for recovery and accepting his new life as a paraplegic.

ASIA A is directed by Andrew Reid, written by Roberto Saieh and produced by Jake Katofsky. The screenplay reading cast included Ana Ayora, Khalif Boyd, Shailene Garnett, Margo Giganc, Russell Goldman, Katia Gomez, Jonathan Medina, Emma Pasarow, Siddiq Saunderson, James Shipp and Chris Williams.

You can catch the short film version, which has been on an extensive film festival tour, on Amazon Prime!


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