Tribeca Film Institute® & Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Announce 2017 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund Grantees

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TFI and Sloan to Co-Host Exclusive Talk After the World Premiere of Sloan-Supported Hedy Lamarr Documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story at Tribeca Film Festival® 2017 on April 23

[New York, NY - April 4, 2017] – Tribeca Film Institute® (TFI) today announced the 2017 grantees of the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund in partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund provides filmmakers with funding and professional guidance to support innovative and compelling films that offer a fresh take on science, mathematics and technology.

This year’s recipients, chosen from a competitive group of submissions, will receive a total of $150,000 in grants to support their projects. Since 2003, the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund has given more than $1.45 million dollars to filmmakers, demonstrating a continued, unwavering commitment to reaching mainstream audiences with stories in which science or scientists play a central role. Of note this year, for the first time ever, the Fund selected a series idea as one of the projects to receive the prestigious grant.

TFI and Sloan will also co-host an exclusive panel after the world premiere of the Sloan-supported Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, a documentary by Director Alexandra Dean, executive produced by Susan Sarandon for Reframed Pictures and Michael Kantor for American Masters Pictures. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has worked for more than a decade to provide development funding for major artistic works including books, plays, screenplay and teleplays, that faithfully depict Lamarr's extraordinary story, a trans-continental, war-time tale of a glamorous Hollywood actress who was a groundbreaking inventor and helped shape the world we live in but never got her technological due.

The special screening, to be held during the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23, will be followed by an exclusive talk with Director DEAN; Executive Producer SARANDON; interviewee DIANE KRUGER, who also voices Lamarr’s letters in the film; intellectual property attorney PATRICIA ROGOWSKI; DANIJELA CABRIC, PhD (Associate Professor and Area Director, Circuits & Embedded Systems at UCLA); and Bloomberg journalist REBECCA GREENFIELD, who will moderate the discussion on the underrepresentation of women in both the entertainment and STEM fields.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, in a separate release, today chronicled the multi-pronged, decade-long development process that is now succeeding in bringing Lamarr's story to the general public.  This effort culminates in Bombshell, the landmark Sloan-sponsored story of a singular career in engineering, invention, and Hollywood, which will have its World Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival.

The 2017 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund grantees are:

  • Adventures of a Mathematician: Written and Directed by Thor Klein. 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.
  • Invisible Islands: Written and Directed by Emily Lobsenz. 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.
  • One Man Dies a Million Times: Written and Directed by Jessica Oreck. A true story, set in the future, about seeds and genetic diversity, about growth and decay, about love and war, about hunger of all kinds. About what it means to be human, even when all your humanity is stripped away.

This year’s winning projects were chosen by a distinguished jury of arts and science professionals including AATISH BHATIA, PhD (Associate Director at Princeton University’s Council on Science and Technology), producer DONNA GIGLIOTTI (Hidden Figures, Silver Linings Playbook, The Reader, Let Me In), ELLEN JORGENSEN, PhD (Co-Founder and Director of the nonprofit Genspace), actress and director PHYLICIA RASHAD (The Cosby Show, Empire, August Osage County) and actress MAGGIE SIFF (Billions, Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men).

“The three projects chosen this year to receive support from the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund shine a spotlight on how filmmakers can successfully weave themes of science and technology into films for mainstream audiences,” said Amy Hobby, Executive Director of TFI. “The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has been such a generous and committed partner in helping us recognize and reward filmmakers willing to take chances and push the boundaries of traditional narrative storytelling.”

This year’s three winners will be honored at a reception during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. The reception will be part of a “Sloan Works-in-Progress Readings and Cocktail” event on April 22 where actors will read excerpts from TFI/Sloan-funded projects.

“These three latest winning screenplays -- about a  brilliant, tender-hearted mathematician immigrant whose gifts were coopted to build destructive weapons, a world under siege where preserving seeds and genetic diversity trumps individual survival, and a funky thriller with a female scientist turned microbial detective traipsing through rural Montana -- demonstrate the continuing robustness of Sloan's historic partnership with TFI, now in its 15th year," said Doron Weber, Vice President & Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  “In a year when Sloan’s early support for Hidden Figures resulted in a hit film and a cultural watershed, we are particularly thrilled to premiere at Tribeca the Sloan-supported tale of Hedy Lamarr, a movie icon whose physical beauty prevented society from seeing her true, hidden genius as one of the 20th century's technological pioneers.”

Past grantees of the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund grant include Human Terrain (2016 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund), Computer Chess (2012 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund), A Birder’s Guide to Everything (2011 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund) and Oscar®-winner The Imitation Game (2014 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund). 

About Tribeca Film Institute

Tribeca Film Institute champions storytellers to be catalysts for change in their communities and around the world. Each year, we identify a diverse group of exceptional filmmakers and media artists then empower them with funding and resources to fully realize their stories and connect with audiences. Our education programs empower students through hands-on training and exposure to socially relevant films, offering young people the media skills necessary to be creative and productive global citizens. We are a year-round nonprofit organization founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of September 11, 2001.

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, Technology & Economics, 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 compelling stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers in the popular imagination. Over the past 15 years, Sloan 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, along with an annual best-of-the-best Student Grand Jury Prize administered by Tribeca Film Institute. The Foundation also supports screenplay development programs with the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, the San Francisco Film Society, the Black List, and Film Independent's Producing Lab and Fast Track program and has helped develop such film projects as Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, Matthew Brown’s The Man Who Knew Infinity, Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter, Rob Meyer's A Birder's Guide to Everything, Musa Syeed's Valley of Saints, and Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess.

The Foundation also has an active theater program and commissions about twenty science plays each year from the Ensemble Studio Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club as well as supporting select productions across the country. Recent grants have supported Leigh Fondakowski’s SPILL, Nick Payne’s Incognito, Frank Basloe’s Please Continue, Deborah Zoe Laufer’s Informed Consent, Lucas Hnath's Isaac's Eye, and Anna Ziegler's Photograph 51, with Lucy Kirkwood’s Mosquitoes premiering at the National Theater in July 2017. The Foundation’s book program includes support for Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, adapted into an Oscar-nominated box office hit in 2017.

For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, visit

3 Apr 2017

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