Carnegie Mellon Film Student to Receive $50,000 Sloan Grand Jury Prize

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Carnegie Mellon Film Student to Receive $50,000 Sloan Grand Jury Prize from Tribeca Film Institute for Best Science-Themed Screenplay

Searching for the next Imitation Game, the Sloan Foundation and Tribeca Film Institute have awarded $250,000 in Direct Grants to Film Students through the Sloan Grand Jury Prize since 1997

[New York, NY – March 5, 2015] – Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) today announced the recipient of the 2015 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Student Grand Jury Prize for Screenwriting. Deep Sea Divers of 1929 by Savannah Reich of Carnegie Mellon was selected as the best-of-the-best screenplay from the winning scripts submitted by six leading film schools – AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, and USC – participating in Sloan’s nationwide Film Program. Since 1997, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded more than $4 million in direct grants to student filmmakers throughout the country and has supported more than 500 film projects of original work that engages with science and technology-related characters and themes.

The $30,000 Grand Jury Prize was created in 2011 by the Sloan Foundation to spotlight the best science and technology-related screenplay from its six film school partners. The award, which is selected by a distinguished jury of filmmakers and scientists, fast-tracks the best script of the year for development, providing a major career opportunity for the student filmmaker.

Reich will receive a $30,000 cash prize and professional development administered by TFI, including year-round mentorship and guidance from scientific and film-industry professionals, networking opportunities, and industry exposure. Reich will attend this year’s Tribeca Film Festival April 15-26 and participate in “TFI Network Market,” one-on-one industry meetings which will allow her to network with film industry executives, potential investors, development executives, producers and agents.

Deep Sea Divers of 1929 was selected by an awards committee comprised of Franklin Leonard (Founder of The Black List); actress Rosemarie DeWitt (Women, Men and Children, Kill The Messenger, Olive Kitteridge, Nobody Walks, The Company Men, Cinderella Man, Rachel Getting Married); writer, director and producer, Cherien Dabis (The L Word, Amreeka, May In Summer, Villa Touma); cognitive neuroscientist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. Heather Berlin (The Discovery Channel); and postdoctoral fellow and writer, Carl E. Schoonover (Portraits of the Mind, The New York Times, Le Figaro, Scientific American, WKCR 89.9FM).

Reich’s screenplay was chosen from scripts submitted by six affiliated film school programs: UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, USC School of Cinematic Arts, Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, AFI America’s Conservatory for Filmmakers, and Columbia School of the Arts.   The Dust, by Columbia Student Amanda Brennan, about a teenager’s journey to save her family’s land through scientific method and teachings, despite her father’s insistence on God, received an honorable mention.

Deep Sea Divers of 1929 shows charming socialite Otis Barton, after being disinherited by his father, sink the remainder of his fortune into building the world’s first deep sea submarine.

“In partnership with Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute continues to be exposed to exceptional screenplays by talented students that highlight and challenge themes around science and the natural world” says Ryan Harrington, TFI’s VP of Artist Programs. “As our partnership enters its fifth year, we look forward to awarding more creative and aspiring screenwriters, like Savannah Reich, with funding, mentorship and professional guidance to help them to accelerate their careers. It is an exceptional time for films with an underlying science theme, and we are proud to help Savannah continue to grow into the professional storyteller that she already is.”

“We are delighted to honor Deep Sea Divers of 1929, Savannah Reich’s sophisticated and affecting script about a trio of fearless inventors and explorers who pushed the frontiers of our knowledge about the ocean, as this year’s Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize winner, says Doron Weber, Vice President, Programs, at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “As Oscar-winning science films from the Sloan-supported Imitation Game to Theory of Everything and Interstellar attest, audiences and critics alike are increasingly drawn to scienc and technology, and this prize recognizes the finest among a new generation of screenwriters engaging with this material in innovative ways.”

Last year’s prize went to Laura Alsum of UCLA for Survival of the Fittest, a feature screenplay about twelve-year-old Charlie, who just wants to play baseball and be a star athlete, but when he is sidelined due to his progressive neuromuscular disease, he must prove to his school that he still belongs by winning the last competition of the year – the science fair.

The Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize was created to recognize the very best student screenplay in the nation that uses science and technology themes or characters to tell an engaging story. Established as part of Sloan’s increasing commitment to support scientific and technological films through to commercial production, the Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize will boost development of the winning project, and introduce the work and its writer to the industry at large. The awardwill be presented at an evening reception in New York City on Thursday, March 26, 2015.

Join the conversation about the Sloan Grand Jury Prize using the hashtag #scienceandfilm.


About Tribeca Film Institute

Tribeca Film Institute champions storytellers to be catalysts for change in their communities and around the world.  Through grants and professional development programs, TFI supports a diverse, exceptional group of filmmakers and media artists, providing them resources needed to realize their stories fully and connect with audiences.  The Institute’s educational programming leverages an extensive film community network to help underserved New York City students learn filmmaking and gain the media skills necessary to be productive citizens and creative individuals in the 21st century.  Featuring hands-on training and exposure to socially relevant films, the Institute administers programs to more than 25,000 students annually.  TFI was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of September 11, 2001 and is a 501(c)(3) year-round nonprofit arts organization.

For more information and a list of all TFI, programs visit

Follow us on Twitter @TribecaFilmIns

About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The New York-based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants in science, technology, and economic performance.  Sloan’s program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater, and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience. 

Sloan’s film program encourages filmmakers to create more realistic and accurate stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers 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 best-of-the-best Student Grand Jury Prize that Tribeca administers. Sloan also supports Screenplay Development Programs at Sundance,  Hamptons International Film Festival, Film Independent and Tribeca  and has developed such film projects as Future Weather; Valley of Saints;  Robot & Frank; A Birder’s Guide to Everything; Computer Chess; Experimenter; and The Imitation Game.  The Foundation awards annual Science and Technology Feature Film Prizes and has honored feature films such as The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Grizzly Man, I Origins, The Stanford Prison Experiment, Decoding Annie Parker, and Another Earth.

Sloan also partners with Ensemble Studio Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club in support of new science plays such as Constellations, by Nick Payne now on Boradway.  For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, please visit

5 Mar 2015