By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

TRIBECA FILM INSTITUTE AND THE ALFRED P. SLOAN FOUNDATION ANNOUNCE 2011 TFI SLOAN FILMMAKER FUND RECIPIENTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

$140,000 Awarded to Six Projects that Dramatize Science and Technology Themes in Film

Award Committee Includes Matthew Broderick, James L. Brooks, Dr. Stuart Firestein, Robin Swicord, Other Film and Science Luminaries

[New York, NY – April 12, 2011] – The Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) today announced the films that will receive financial and creative support from the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  This year, out of 121 applicants both in the US and internationally, six projects will be awarded a total of $140,000 and will be recognized at the annual Tribeca Film Festival (April 20- May 1, 2011). Grant recipients will receive year-round mentorship from science experts and members of the film industry with the goal to help their projects at any stage move towards completion.  The TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund awards grants to narrative film projects that dramatize science and technology themes in film or that portray scientists, engineers, or mathematicians in prominent character roles. 2011 also marks the 10th year of the partnership between TFI and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a founding sponsor of the Tribeca Film Festival and TFI.

The winning projects were selected by an Award Committee made up of luminaries in film and science including: Alexis Alexanian (Producer, The Hottest State, Pieces of April, Tadpole); Matthew Broderick (Tony Award-winning actor: Election, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, On Stage: The Producers, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying); James L. Brooks (Oscar-winning Writer/Director/Producer, How Do You Know, As Good As it Gets, Terms of Endearment); Andrew Fierberg (Producer, Broken English, Fur, Secretary); Dr. Stuart Firestein (Professor of Biological Science & Department Chair, Columbia); Dr. Janna Levin (Professor of Physics & Astronomy, Barnard) and Robin Swicord (Oscar-nominated Writer/Director, The Jane Austen Book Club, Memoirs of a Geisha, Matilda).

Doron Weber, Vice President of Programs at the Sloan Foundation, and select committee members will present the awards at the TFI Awards Luncheon on April 28, 2011 at Riverpark NYC to the following projects:  A Birder’s Guide To Everything, El Diablo Rojo, A Noble Affair, Photograph 51, Talking Book, and Televisionaries. The projects all emphasize science and technology in their storylines, which focus on subjects such as an extinct duck; predatory squid; Marie Curie; the race to discover the DNA double-helix; and a 1970s computer that reads books out loud for the blind.

“Over the past 10 years, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has been an essential part of Tribeca, as well as  the film community, by providing funds to help compelling films with science and technology themes to be made,” said Jane Rosenthal, Co-Chairman of the Board, TFI. “We look forward to the continued success of the program, including this year’s deserving group of grantees.”

“We are very proud to celebrate ten years of our pioneering partnership with Tribeca, a partnership that has produced some of the most exciting screenings, readings, panels and film projects in our national science-in film program,” said Doron Weber, Vice President, Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “This year’s crop of multi-talented, winning filmmakers and their diverse range of stories about science and technology—from comedy to romance, thrillers, historical epics, coming-of-age, drama and biopic—attest to the growing power and appeal of movies that engage with life at the deepest level of nature and our shared humanity.”

Selected projects for funding:

A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Still reeling from the recent death of his mother, and on the eve of his father’s remarriage, teen birdwatcher David Portnoy convinces his friends to join him on a road trip to find what he believes is an extinct duck.

Rob Meyer (Director, Screenwriter)

Luke Matheny (Screenwriter)

Paul Miller (Producer)

El Diablo Rojo

Called down to investigate a mysterious disappearance of fish in the Sea of Cortez, a marine biologist and his team discover a super swarm of “El Diablo Rojo” squid and must risk their lives to prevent a looming ecological catastrophe. Based on true events.

Brent Hoff (Screenwriter, Producer)

Malcolm Pullinger (Producer)

Todd Hagopian (Producer)

A Noble Affair (also a 2008 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund recipient)

As Marie Curie is nominated for a Nobel Prize for her groundbreaking work in chemistry, her affair with a married man creates a scandal that ruins her reputation, causes her to flee France, and becomes the obstacle to the prize that will prove her a scientist in her own right.

Anil Baral (Screenwriter, Producer)

Kathryn Maughan (Screenwriter)

Neda Armian (Producer)

Photograph 51

A poignant retelling of Rosalind Franklin’s involvement in the controversial race for the double helix in the 1950s, and of the discovery that truly shaped her: the beating of her own romantic heart.

Anna Ziegler (Screenwriter)

Darren Aronofsky (Producer)
Ari Handel (Producer)

Rachel Weisz (Producer)

NOTE: This is an adaptation of Ziegler’s Sloan-awarded stage play of the same name.

Talking Book

A technophobic, newly divorced woman falls into the chaotic world of a 1970’s hi-tech startup company. She joins forces with an eclectic group of programmers, the visionary Ray Kurzweil, and musician Stevie Wonder to sell the Kurzweil Reading Machine, a computer that reads books out loud for the blind.

Lara Shapiro (Screenwriter, Director)

Televisionaries

In an epic battle of wits between two of the 20th century’s most influential figures, a genius inventor faces off against a shrewd tycoon for control over a world-changing new technology. Based on the book “THE LAST LONE INVENTOR: A Tale of Genius, Deceit, and the Birth of Television” by Schwartz.

Evan I. Schwartz (Screenwriter)

Jonathan Sheldon (Producer)

Honorable Mentions include:

Radiant, written by Bonnie Kimberly Taylor & Alexander Baxter, tells the story of Marie Curie.  It will be produced by Baxter, Laurent Buffi and David Baxter, with executive producer Rose Ganguzza. Sylvie Testud is attached to portray Curie, and Blackwood, written by Lisa Hoppe and Emily Ballou, to be directed by Samantha Lang, and produced by Barbara Grummels and Lizette Atkins – about amateur botanist Georgiana Molloy.

TFI Sloan Filmmaker Works-In-Progress

In addition to financial and year-round ancillary support, TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund grant recipients will receive exposure to industry executives, financiers and producers during the Tribeca Film Festival at the invitation-only Sloan Works-In-Progress showcase, a presentation of the grant-winning film projects.  Five of the six projects in development will have scenes performed by an esteemed cast. The Sloan Works-In-Progress showcase will take place on the morning of April 27th at Helen Millis Theater.  Recipients will also have the opportunity to present their projects to industry executives during one-on-one pitch sessions at the TFI Industry Meetings.

In addition to its support of the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund and the Works-in-Progress reading, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will present a Retrospective Screening & Discussion of the 10th Anniversary of A Beautiful Mind at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 30 at SVA1. Following the screening, a panel discussion about art, science, and math in the film will take place with Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Akiva Goldsman, Syvlia Nasar, Dave Bayar, Brian Greene, and moderator Ira Flatow (NPR).

About the Tribeca Film Institute:

The Tribeca Film Institute is a 501(c)3 year round nonprofit arts organization founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of September 11, 2001. TFI empowers filmmakers through grants and professional development, and is a resource and advocate for individual artists in the field. 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. Administering a dozen major programs annually, TFI is a critical contributor to the fabric of filmmaking and aids in protecting the livelihood of filmmakers and media artists.

For more information and a list of all TFI programs visit http://www.tribecafilminstitute.org/

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. In addition to partnering with six of the nation’s leading film schools and four Screenplay Development Programs, Sloan has supported such film projects as Future Weather, a coming of age story about a young woman who finds personal meaning in science, starring Lily Taylor and Amy Madigan (now in post-production), and Valley of Saints, which initially received an NYU First Feature Production Award and is one of the first films shot in Kashmir (and now in post-production).

The Foundation has sponsored screenwriting and film production workshops at Sundance, the Hamptons, Tribeca, and Film Independent, and honored feature films such as Obselidia, Agora and Another Earth (forthcoming this summer from Fox). Sloan also partners with Ensemble Studio Theatre (EST), Manhattan Theatre Club  and Playwrights Horizons in support of new science plays such as Pidgeon, a drama about Leon Theremin, a Soviet inventor and father of electronic music, which runs as part of the EST/Sloan First Light Festival through April 23. For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation please visit www.sloan.org.

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“When Bay keeps these absurd plot-gears spinning, he’s displaying his skill as a slick, professional entertainer. But then there are the images of motion—I hesitate to say, of things in motion, because it’s not clear how many things there are in the movie, instead of mere digital simulations of things. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that there’s a car chase through London, seen from the level of tires, that could have gone on for an hour, um, tirelessly. What matters is that the defenestrated Cade saves himself by leaping from drone to drone in midair like a frog skipping among lotus pads; that he and Vivian slide along the colossal, polished expanses of sharply tilting age-old fields of metal like luge Olympians. What matters is that, when this heroic duo find themselves thrust out into the void of inner space from a collapsing planet, it has a terrifyingly vast emptiness that Bay doesn’t dare hold for more than an instant lest he become the nightmare-master. What matters is that the enormous thing hurtling toward Earth is composed in a fanatical detail that would repay slow-motion viewing with near-geological patience. Bay has an authentic sense of the gigantic; beside the playful enormity of his Transformerized universe, the ostensibly heroic dimensions of Ridley Scott’s and Christopher Nolan’s massive visions seem like petulant vanities.”
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How do you see film evolving in this age of Netflix?

I thought the swing would be quicker and more violent. There have been two landmark moments in the history of French film. First in 1946, with the creation of the CNC under the aegis of Malraux. He saved French cinema by establishing the advance on receipts and support fund mechanisms. We’re all children of this political invention. Americans think that the State gives money to French films, but they’re wrong. Through this system, films fund themselves!

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These political decisions are important. We’re once again facing big change. If our political masters don’t take control of the situation and new stakeholders like Netflix, Google and Amazon, we’re headed for disaster. We need to create obligations for Internet service providers. They can’t always be against film. They used to allow piracy, but now that they’ve become producers themselves, they’re starting to see things in a different light. This is a moment of transition, a strong political act needs to be put forward. And it can’t just be at national level, it has to happen at European level.

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