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 2017 Commissioning Grant was awarded to Jamie Dawson, Howard Gertler, and Likely Story for their project Untitled Smallpox Eradication Project, and the 2017 Fellowship was awarded to Darcy Brislin and Dyana Winkler for their project Bell.

    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 2017, the prize was awarded to Marjorie Prime, written/directed by Michael Almereyda.

    Visit 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.

    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 – Fellowship – written by Darcy Brislin and Dyana Winkler.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

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

    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

Founded in 1934, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a non-profit philanthropy that makes grants in science, technology and economic performance. This Sloan-Sundance partnership forms part of a broader national program by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to stimulate leading artists in film, television, and theater; to create more realistic and compelling stories about science and technology; and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists, engineers, and mathematicians 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 first-feature award for alumni. The Foundation has also started an annual Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival and initiated new screenwriting and film production workshops at the Hamptons and Tribeca Film Festival and with Film Independent. As more finished films emerge from this developmental pipeline—four features were completed this year, with half a dozen more on deck—the foundation has also partnered with the Coolidge Corner Theater and the Arthouse Convergence to screen science films in up to 40 theaters nationwide. The Foundation also has an active theater program and commissions over a dozen science plays each year from the Ensemble Studio Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club and Playwright Horizons.