Sundance Institute and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Award $60,000 In Science-in-Film Prizes at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival

Park City, UT — Sundance Institute today announced the Science-in Film-Prizes that support the development and exhibition of new independent film projects that explore science and technology themes or that depict scientists, engineers and mathematicians in engaging and innovative ways. The winning projects and grantees are as follows: The Stanford Prison Experiment by director Kyle Patrick Alvarez,winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize; Jonathan Minard and Scott Rashap (Archive), winners of the Sundance Institute / Sloan Fellowship; and Jon Noble (Tyfus), Cutter Hodierne and John Hibey (Otzi), winners of the Sundance Institute / Sloan Commissioning Grants, presented through Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program.

These activities, as well as a panel at the Festival, are part of the Sundance Institute Science-in-Film Initiative, which is made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said, “Independent film can illustrate the importance and unique application of math, science and technology in our world. The Sundance Institute Science-in-Film Initiative, with critical support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is a great way to encourage production of thoughtful work surrounding these imperative topics which make a lasting impact on audiences.”

Doron Weber, Vice President, Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation said, “We are thrilled to recognize Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s powerful film The Stanford Prison Experiment as the 2015 winner of the Sloan Feature Film Prize at Sundance in our 13th year of this truly pioneering program. With The Imitation Game, Theory of Everything and Interstellar wowing audiences and winning accolades this year – and with Gravity, Her and Dallas Buyers Club similarly successful last year – it is clear that science and technology themes and characters are entering the cinematic mainstream. Sloan’s own nationwide development pipeline has now produced 14 feature films, including Experimenter which premiered this year at Sundance Film Festival and the eight-times Oscar-nominated The Imitation Game. This year we are excited to support Sundance Institute in adding three new film projects—Archive, Otzi  and Tyfus—to this terrific collaboration and we hope to see all three at the Sundance Film Festival and in our local theaters soon.”


Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize
The Stanford Prison Experiment, directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, has been awarded the 2015 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and will receive a $20,000 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The Prize is selected by a jury of film and science professionals and presented to outstanding feature films focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character.

The Stanford Prison Experiment: Based on the actual events that took place in 1971, when Stanford professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo created what became one of the most shocking and famous social experiments of all time. Cast: Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, Tye Sheridan, Johnny Simmons, Olivia Thirlby.

The jury presented the award to the film for its “unflinching portrayal of an ambitious though flawed social science experiment in the psychology of imprisonment, and for its wrenching depiction of the human capacity for evil.”

Previous Alfred P. Sloan Prize Winners include: Mike Cahill, I Origins (2014); Andrew Bujalski, Computer Chess (2013); Jake Schreier and Christopher Ford, Robot & Frank (2012); Musa Syeed, Valley of Saints (2012); Mike Cahill and Brit Marling, Another Earth (2011); Diane Bell, Obselidia (2010); Max Mayer, Adam (2009); Alex Rivera, Sleep Dealer (2008); Shi-Zheng Chen, Dark Matter (2007); Andrucha Waddington and Elena Soarez, House of Sand (2006); Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man (2005); Shane Carruth, Primer (2004) and Marc Decena, Dopamine (2003). Several past winners have also been awarded Jury Awards at the Festival, including the Grand Jury Prize for Primer, the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for Sleep Dealer and the Excellence in Cinematography Award for Obselidia.

As previously announced, this year’s Alfred P. Sloan jury members are:

Paula Apsell
As director of the WGBH Science Unit and senior executive producer of the PBS science series NOVA, Paula Apsell has overseen the production of hundreds of acclaimed science documentaries, including such distinguished miniseries as The Fabric of the Cosmos with Brian Greene, Origins with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Making Stuff with David Pogue and the magazine spin-off NOVA scienceNOW. NOVA is the nation’s most-watched science series, a top site on, and recipient of every major broadcasting honor, including the Emmy, the Peabody, and the duPont-Columbia Gold Baton. Apsell has won numerous individual awards and has served on many boards including the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. In 2012 she was journalist in residence at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at University of California, Santa Barbara and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Janna Levin
Janna Levin is an astrophysicist and writer. She has contributed to an understanding of black holes, the cosmology of extra dimensions, and gravitational waves in the shape of spacetime. She is the author of the popular-science book How the Universe Got Its Spots and a novel, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, which won the PEN/Bingham prize. Levin is a professor at Barnard/Columbia and was recently named a Guggenheim Fellow.

Brit Marling
Brit Marling will be seen in Daniel Barber’s The Keeping Room, a film about three Southern women defending their home during the Civil War which premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Marling recently portrayed a molecular biologist in Mike Cahill’s I Origins. and has also been seen in Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep and Nicholas Jarecki’s financial thriller, Arbitrage. At the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Marling became the first female multi-hyphenate to have two films premiere side-by-side: Sound of My Voice, and Another Earth, both of which she co-wrote, co-produced and starred in. Fox Searchlight acquired both films, releasing them in 2012 and 2011, respectively. Marling’s foray into filmmaking started during her college years at Georgetown University. This introduction led Marling to Havana, Cuba, to co-direct the documentary Boxers and Ballerinas which followed young artists and athletes living in the communist country. Marling graduated valedictorian from Georgetown, having studied economics and studio art.

Jonathan Nolan
Jonathan Nolan is an Academy Award-nominated writer of film, fiction, and television. His credits include The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, The Prestige, and Interstellar. Nolan’s short story Memento Mori, first published in Esquire, was adapted by his brother Christopher into the critically acclaimed film Memento, for which they share an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. The brothers were also nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for The Dark Knight screenplay. For television, Nolan created the hit drama Person of Interest, starring Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson. The show is in its fourth season on CBS. Most recently, he directed the pilot Westworld for HBO. Based on the film by Michael Critchon and co-written with his wife, Lisa Joy, the project stars Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris. Nolan and Joy serve as executive producers alongside J.J. Abrams. Nolan was born in London and grew up in the Chicago area. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his family.

Adam Steltzner
Adam D. Steltzner is a Fellow at Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is leading the development of the Sampling System for the 2020 Mars Surface Mission project. Most recently he was the phase lead and development manager of the Entry, Descent and Landing phase of the Mars Science Laboratory project. Steltzner received his BS in mechanical engineering from University of California, Davis in 1990, his MS in applied mechanics from Caltech in 1991, and his PhD in engineering physics from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1999. Steltzner joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1991 and has worked on various projects including Galileo, Cassini, Mars Pathfinder, Champollion, Comet Nucleus Sample Return, Mars Exploration Rovers, and the Mars Science Laboratory. His research interests include structural dynamics, input force determination, mechanical design, systems engineering, and leadership of high-performance teams. He is increasingly aware of the importance of team culture and interpersonal dynamics in delivering a team’s final product.

To support the development of screenplays with science or technology, Sundance Institute and the
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provide two different opportunities for screenwriters through a Commissioning Grant or a Fellowship. Both provide a cash award to support further development of a screenplay and to retain science advisors, along with overall creative and strategic feedback throughout development.

Sundance Institute / Sloan Fellowship
The Jonathan Minard and Scott Rashap will receive a $15,000 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Archive (U.S.A.) / Jonathan Minard (Co-writer/Director) and Scott Rashap (Co-writer)
In the wake of a virtual affair lived entirely through email and gchat, two lovers face the intangibility and distance that characterized their relationship. A search for the physical traces of their connection prompts a journey to the data center which holds their intimate messages.

Jonathan Minard’s films examine our dreams of the near future through documentary and science fiction. He has directed a web series on the history of the internet called The Information Age, and created Clouds, an interactive movie presented in virtual reality which premiered as part of New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014, and was awarded Best Interactive Film at the Tribeca Film Festival. Minard has received support through research fellowships and commissions from Eyebeam, the Studio for Creative Inquiry, NASA Ames, and the US Fulbright Program in Mongolia. In 2009, he founded Deepspeed Media, a production company with a focus on science and technology.

Scott Rashap is a screenwriter and director of live action and animation. Since graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, he has written a series of historical and biographical films told through a nontraditional lens, including Toru, the story of a terminally ill baby who lives out his brief life in a simulation; Songs from a Room, a study of a dead man’s identity based on the items found in his office; The Epic History of Everyday Things for the History Channel; and Past Perfect, an interactive documentary directed with Jonathan Minard, which invited participants to back up their memories to the Cloud.

Sundance Institute / Sloan Commissioning Grants
The grantees will each receive a $12,500 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Otzi (U.S.A.) / Cutter Hodierne (Co-writer/Director) and John Hibey (Co-writer)
10,000 feet atop the Italian Alps, a perfectly mummified corpse is discovered by two hikers, revealing a 5,300 year old murder mystery that becomes a legend around the world. Based on cave paintings and forensic evidence, Otzi follows the final days of this prehistoric man’s life, as scientists try to solve the oldest murder mystery in the world.

Cutter Hodierne began his career at age 22 as U2’s ‘filmmaker on the road’ during their U2-360 tour. After this, he traveled to East Africa to research piracy and direct the short film Fishing Without Nets. The short won numerous awards including the Grand Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Cutter was named one of the top 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine. Cutter then teamed up with VICE to expand the short into his feature debut. The feature length version of Fishing Without Nets was supported at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab and received a grant from Cinereach / Sundance Institute, and in 2014, the feature premiered in competition at Sundance where Cutter received the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award. In October Fishing Without Nets was released to critical acclaim by VICE Films & 20th Century Fox.

Upon graduation from Notre Dame film school, John Hibey moved to the Philippines to document college students starting their own non-profit organizations. In 2011, he traveled to East Africa where he co-wrote and produced the short film Fishing Without Nets with writer/director Cutter Hodierne. The short won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Filmmaking at the 2012 Sundance Film festival. The feature length version of the film was supported by the Sundance Screenwriters Lab and won the US Dramatic Directing Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Tyfus (U.S.A.) / Jon Noble (Writer/Director)
In a desperate attempt to protect their town from Nazi occupation, two Polish doctors secretly engineer a fake outbreak of Typhus, spreading the disease to force the German army out before they discover the truth behind the town’s seemingly deadly epidemic.

Jon Noble was born and raised just outside Washington D.C.. Spending his formative years either in a virology lab or a movie theater, his life has always been split between science and film. Jon received his undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester, where he dual majored in Biology and Film Studies. In 2011 he was accepted into USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where he earned an MFA in Film and Television Production. In 2012, Jon was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan USC Student Production Grant, to direct his short script, Nzara76, a fictional account of the the first outbreak of Ebola in 1976. Jon hopes to continue searching for the common ground between his two life-long passions, creating compelling stories and characters that challenge and inspire through issues in science and technology.

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Whiplash, Boyhood, Rich Hill, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Little Miss Sunshine, sex, lies, and videotape, Reservoir Dogs, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Precious and Napoleon Dynamite, and through its New Frontier initiative has showcased groundbreaking media works by artists and creative technologists including Chris Milk, Doug Aitken, Palmer Luckey, Klip Collective and Nonny de la Pena. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2015 Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – HP, Acura, SundanceTV and Chase Sapphire Preferred®; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Airbnb, Grey Goose® Vodka, LensCrafters, Southwest Airlines and YouTube; Sustaining Sponsors – Blundstone Australia Pty Ltd, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Chobani, LLC, Omnicom, Stella Artois® and VIZIO. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists.

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, The Invisible War, The Square, Dirty Wars, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The New-York based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants for research and education in 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.  The Sloan 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 the Tribeca Film Institute. The Foundation also supports screenplay development programs at Sundance, Tribeca, Hamptons International Film Festival and Film Independent’s Producer’s Lab and has developed such film projects as Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, Rob Meyer’s A Birder’s Guide to Everything, Musa Syeed’s Valley of Saints, and Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess. The Foundation has partnered with the Coolidge Corner Theater and the Art House Convergence to take Science on Screen, a program that creatively pairs film screenings with expert speakers at cinemas nationwide, and expand it to include new films developed by Sloan or awarded Sloan prizes. The Foundation also has an active theater program and commissions over a dozen science plays each year from the Ensemble Studio Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club as well as supporting select productions across the country, including Nick Payne’s Constellations starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson currently on Broadway. For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, visit

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