Museum of the Moving Image and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Announce Student Prize Winners (EXCLUSIVE)

Museum of the Moving Image and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation student winners. (Left to right): Samantha Sewell and Gerard Shaka.
Museum of the Moving Image and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The Museum of the Moving Image and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced 2022 award recipients from the Sloan Film Program on Friday. A pilot script titled “Until Then We Keep Breathing” by UCLA student Samantha Sewell and a feature script called “Woodside” by Florida State University student Gerard Shaka were among the projects recognized.

“While the four honored scripts (two winners and two honorable mentions) deal with a broad range of settings, genres, and scientific and technological themes — from cystic fibrosis and congenital disability to climate change and permafrost, from marine conservation and mangrove systems to IVF and reproductive medicine — all of the stories evoke the formative and central role of families and family relationships in the lives of their protagonists,” wrote Doron Weber, vice president and program director at the Sloan Foundation. “They are quintessentially human stories about how nature shapes us and how science and technology seek to reshape nature.”

Since 2011, a jury of science and entertainment professionals has annually sifted through submissions from hundreds of applicants to select the Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize winner, which serves to highlight a standout filmmaker from one of the program’s six partner film schools. The Sloan Student Discovery Prize was added in 2019 in recognition of students who submit first-time scripts from a selection of six public universities.

This year’s jury members included chemist Kate Biberdorf, “Good Night Oppy” producer Jessica Hargrave, “Orange Is the New Black” actor Naomi Lorrain, author and academic Hannah Landecker, occupational therapy professor Anita Perr and “Panchinko” writer Franklin jin Rho.

Winners of both prizes receive $20,000 each to develop their projects and year-round mentorship from a science advisor and film industry professional, in addition to being honored at the Museum of the Moving Image on Jan. 5, 2023.

Read more about the winners and honorable mentions below.

The 2022 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize Winner: 

“Until Then We Keep Breathing” by Samantha Sewell (Pilot) — University of California, Los Angeles

Logline: Based in truth, “Until Then We Keep Breathing” is a six-part limited series chronicling the life of a boy diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis in 1963. From birth, to his first love, to the death of his parents, to several near-death experiences along the way, Until Then We Keep Breathing presents one man’s will to live a full and normal life despite the limitations of his congenital illness and the uncertainty of his eventual demise.

Honorable Mention:

“When It Thaws” by Anika Benkov (Feature) — Columbia University

Logline: An aging scientist recruits his estranged daughter to come to the remote wilderness of Siberia and help him restore the tundra to Pleistocene-era plains, battling the melting permafrost, and his deteriorating memory, in the process.

The 2022 Sloan Student Discover Prize Winner: 

“Woodside” by Gerard Shaka (Feature) — Florida State University

Logline: While struggling to cope with an abusive father and a complacent mother, a queer Bahamian boy discovers self-love through his experiences replanting mangroves with a marine conservationist.

Honorable Mention:

“In Vitro Veritas” by Cat Loerke (Pilot) — Brooklyn College Feirstein School of Cinema

Logline: When a brilliant, overly clinical fertility doctor on the brink of solving her own infertility woes loses the funding for an experimental IVF treatment that will put her clinic on the map (and make her a mom), her desperation sends her to the last patient she wants to help, her ex-husband’s new-agey, wellness empress new wife, whose involvement in her trial complicates her quest to get her “differently fertile” patients – and herself – pregnant.