Sundance announces Alfred P Sloan Awards

Science-in-film grants given to Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt and Alex Rivera.

by Amber Wilkinson

The Sundance has announced the recipients of the Alfred P Sloan Foundation Science-In-Film Inititiative Awards, which aims to support and celebrate films that explore issues of science and technology.

The 2009 Commissioning Grant co-recipients are Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt (Lumo) and Alex Rivera (Sleep Dealer). The Sloan Commissioning Fund provides a $25,000 stipend and resources for projects early in the development phase.

Perlmutt and Rivera will each receive a $12,500 stipend and ongoing creative and strategic support from the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program.

The 2009 Sloan Lab Fellow is Avi Zev Weider. The Sloan Fellowship develops eligible projects at the Sundance Feature Film Labs towards production. Weider attended the 2009 January Screenwriting Lab in Sundance, Utah.

Sundance Institute Executive Director Ken Brecher said: "The depth of this year’s work, as it examines the intersection of science and culture is impressive, and we are honored to work with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to offer support to these uniquely talented filmmakers.

"These awards are integral to Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program which provides year-round support for US and international filmmakers."

"The three talented filmmakers selected this year for screenplay development all show how science and technology affect our daily lives and help define who we are in the here and now, not in some fantastic otherworldly realm.

"In so doing, they remind us, through captivating stories and memorable characters, that science and technology is the expression of the human spirit seeking to understand and act in the modern world,” said Doron Weber, Director of the Sloan Foundation’s Public Understanding of Science and Technology Program.

The projects are as follows:

Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt - On The Left Perlmutt’s political thriller tells the story of a young Cuban-American designer who travels the world to research human behavior for a large mobile phone company. He becomes embroiled in Cuba’s flourishing black market, where he experiences a powerful connection to the unique culture, time, and place that is modern day Havana.

Perlmutt is a New York-based filmmaker. His feature-length documentary film Lumo won a 2007 Student Academy Award and the President’s Award at the 2007 Full Frame Film Festival. His film Les Vulnerables (2007), screened as the closing night short of the 2007 New York Film Festival and at the 2008 Berlinale.

Alex Rivera - La Vida Robot Based on true events,the film follows the story of four underachieving, high school classmates who compete against MIT in a national underwater robot championship.

Rivera is a New York-based filmmaker and digital media artist. His first feature film Sleep Dealer premiered at 2008 Sundance Film Festival and won the Alfred P Sloan Award and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Rivera is a Fellow of the Sundance Feature Film Program Labs, a Rockefeller Fellow and an Annenberg Fellow. His work has been screened at The Berlin International Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, The Guggenheim Museum, PBS, and the Telluride Film Festival. Sleep Dealer will be released in the US by Maya Films this Spring.

2009 Sloan Lab Fellow

Avi Zev Weider - Zeroes and Ones A young woman creates an intelligent machine out of discarded computer parts, and thus completes her grandmother’s fractured story of survival at Auschwitz and emerges from her own secluded life.

Weider’s award-winning short film, I Remember, premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. He is currently working on a documentary feature about human relationships to technology, Welcome To The Machine. Weider attended the 2009 January Screenwriting Lab in Sundance, Utah as part of his Sloan Fellowship.

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