Science-in-Film


Sundance Institute and the Sloan Foundation

Sundance Institute is proud to celebrate more than a decade of partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and their commitment to Sundance Institute’s Science-in-Film Initiative. The Sloan Foundation is devoted to the support of education and research in science, technology, and economic performance through a variety of grants and fellowships. The principle belief of the Foundation is that understanding the world and all of its functionalities is key to the betterment of society as a whole.

  • In 2003, the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program and the Sloan Foundation came together to create the Sundance/Sloan Commissioning Grant and Fellowship, which supports the development of screenplays with science or technology themes. The winners of the Grant and Fellowship are awarded a cash grant to further develop their screenplays, with an additional stipend to hire a science advisor. The 2018 Commissioning Grant was awarded to Cherien Dabis for What the Eyes Don't See, the 2018 Lab Fellowship was awarded to C. Wrenn Ball for Katie Wright, and the Episodic Fellowship was awarded to John Lopez for Untitled J.P. Morgan Project.

    In addition to the Sloan sponsored programs, each year the Foundation also awards the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize to one film at the Sundance Film Festival. The Prize is selected by a jury of film and science professionals and judged based on the film’s focus on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character. The Sloan Feature Film Prize holds a cash award of $20,000 presented to the winning director at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2018, the prize was awarded to Search, written by Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian, and directed by Aneesh Chaganty.

    Visit scienceandfilm.org to learn about projects supported by the Sloan Film Program, and see how film can serve as a lens into society's most critical science and technology issues.


  • Brit Marling (Another Earth)

    Since 2003, Sundance Institute and the Sloan Foundation have partnered to award the Sloan Feature Film Prize, the Sloan Commissioning Grant, and the Sloan Fellowship to feature-length screenplays and films with science or technology themes. Browse the list below to revisit prize winners and grantees, from Shane Carruth’s contemporary time travel drama Primer to Mike Cahill’s stirring portrait of a woman’s life after the discovery of a tangent universe in Another Earth.

    2018
    Search - Feature Film Prize - directed by Aneesh Chaganty and written by Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian
    What the Eyes Don't See - Commissioning Grant - written and directed by Cherien Dabis, produced by Rosalie Swedlin, and executive produced by Michael Sugar
    Katie Wright - Lab Fellowship - written by C. Wrenn Ball
    Untitled J.P. Morgan Project - Episodic Fellowship - written by John Lopez

    2017
    Marjorie Prime – Feature Film Prize – directed by Michael Almereyda.
    Untitled Smallpox Eradication Project – Commissioning Grant – Jamie Dawson (Writer), Howard Gertler (Producer) and Likely Story.
    Bell – Lab Fellowship – written by Darcy Brislin and Dyana Winkler.
    Levittown - Episodic Fellowship - written and created by Adam Benic

    2016
    Embrace of the Serpent – Feature Film Prize – directed by Ciro Guerra.
    Bell – Commissioning Grant – written by Darcy Brislin and Dyana Winkler.
    The Gold Bug Variations – Fellowship – written/directed by Mark Levinson.

    2015
    The Stanford Prison Experiment – Feature Film Prize – directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez.
    Tyfus – Commissioning Grant – written by Jon Noble.
    Otzi – Commissioning Grant – written by Cutter Hodierne and John Hibey.
    Archive – Fellowship – written/directed by Jonathan Minard and co-written by Scott Rashap.

    2014
    I Origins – Feature Film Prize – directed by Mike Cahill.
    Francis Turnbull – Commissioning Grant – written by David Schwab.
    The Buried Life – Fellowship – written/directed by Joan Stein Schimke and Averie Storck.

    2013
    Computer Chess – Feature Film Prize – directed by Andrew Bujalski.
    The Absence Sonata – Commissioning Grant – written/directed by Thomas Martin.
    Prodigal Summer – Fellowship – co-written/directed by Nicole Kassel and co-written by Barbara Kingsolver.

    2012
    Robot and Frank – Feature Film Prize – written by Christopher Ford and directed by Jake Schreier.
    Valley of Saints – Feature Film Prize – written/directed by Musa Syeed.
    Flood – Commissioning Grant – written/directed by Katy Scoggins.
    Operator – Fellowship – written/directed by Logan Kibbens and co-written by Sharon Greene.

    2011
    Another EarthFeature Film Prize – written/directed by Mike Cahill and co-written by Brit Marling.
    American Prometheus – Commissioning Grant – written and directed by Robert Edwards.
    Paperclip – Commissioning Grant – written and directed by Ioana Uricaru.
    Stem – Fellowship – written and directed by Diane Bell.

    2010
    Obselidia – Feature Film Prize – written/directed by Diane Bell.
    Bed – Commissioning Grant – co-written/directed by Cath Couteur and co-written by Joel Davis.
    A Birder's Guide to Everything – Fellowship – written/directed by Rob Meyerand and co-written by Luke Matheny.

    2009
    Adam– Feature Film Prize – written/directed by Max Mayer.
    On the Left – Commissioning Grant – directed by Bent-Jurgen Perlmutt.
    La Vida Robot – Commissioning Grant – directed by Alex Rivera.
    Zeroes and Ones – Fellowship – written/directed by Avi Zev Weider.

    2008
    Sleep Dealer – Feature Film Prize – written/directed by Alex Rivera.
    The Experimenter – Fellowship – directed by Michael Amereyda.
    Cockeyed – Fellowship – written/directed by Ryan Knighton.

    2007
    Dark Matter – Feature Film Prize – written by Billy Shebar and directed by Chen Shi-Zheng.
    The Sugar Pill – Commissioning Grant – written by Lisa Krueger.
    Here – Fellowship –written/ directed by Braden King and co-written by Dani Valent.

    2006
    House of Sand – Feature Film Prize – written by Elena Suarez and directed by Andrucha Waddington.
    Ten Dreams – Commissioning Grant – written by Laurie Anderson.
    The Radioactive Boy-Scout – Fellowship– written/directed by Greg Harrison.

    2005
    Grizzly Man – Feature Film Prize – written/directed by Werner Herzog.
    The Radioactive Boy-Scout – Commissioning Grant – written/directed by Greg Harrison.
    Not by Chance – Fellowship – written/directed by Philippe Barcinski.

    2004
    Primer – Feature Film Prize – written/directed by Shane Carruth.

    2003
    Dopamine – Feature Film Prize – directed by Mark Decena and co-written by Tim Breitbach.
    All of Creation – Fellowship – written by Matthew Friedman.

  • Sundance Institute and the Science and Entertainment Exchange recently teamed up with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to commission four short films exploring science and technology. The shorts, created by filmmakers Braden King, Flora Lichtman, Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, and Katy Scoggin, premiered at Neuehouse in New York City. Following the film screenings, the audience was treated to a conversation between the filmmakers and the scientists who advised them.


    Chuck & Barb Go Hunting

    by Katy Scoggin


    Puppy Love

    by Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt


    The White Guard

    by Braden King


    Your Inner Life

    by Flora Lichtman


The New York-based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, is a non-profit philanthropy that makes grants for original research and education 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 and to bridge the two cultures of science and the humanities.

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 two decades, 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 the 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 Shawn Snyder’s To Dust, Ginny Mohler and Lydia Pilcher’s Radium Girls, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, Matthew Brown’s The Man Who Knew Infinity, and Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter. The Foundation has also supported theatrical documentaries such as the recently released Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Particle Fever, and Jacques Perrin’s Oceans.

The Foundation has an active theater program and commissions about twenty science plays each year from the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, and the National Theatre, as well as supporting select productions across the country and abroad. Recent grants have supported Lucy Kirkwood’s Mosquitoes, Nick Payne’s Constellations, Lucas Hnath’s Isaac’s Eye, and Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51. The Foundation’s book program includes early support for Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, the highest grossing Oscar-nominated film of 2017 and the recipient of the Sloan Science in Cinema Prize at the San Francisco Film Society.

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