The Museum of the Moving Image and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced finalists for their nationwide Film Program on Wednesday. The Sloan Student Grand Jury awards two outstanding film or series screenplays that integrate science or technology with a cash prize of $20,000 and a year-round mentorship from a scientist and film industry professional. The winners will be honored in the fall at a MoMI awards ceremony.
The Sloan Student Prizes were created with the goal of advancing the paths of emerging filmmakers. Established in 2011 with the Grand Jury Prize and expanded in 2019 with the Discovery Prize, the former awards students from the program’s six partner film schools, while the latter nominated scripts from six public universities.
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the Museum of the Moving Image and to honor the best-of-the-best screenplays from our partner film schools while also discovering new screenwriters who integrate science and technology into their work,” said Doron Weber, vice president and program director at the Sloan Foundation. “The 2022 nominees for the Sloan Student Prizes represent an incredibly strong selection of young filmmakers across the country, and we are excited to help develop their stories and bring them to the attention of the film industry.”
“We are looking forward to working with this excellent group of screenwriters and helping them reach the next stage of their careers,” said Sonia Epstein, executive editor of Sloan Science & Film and MoMI associate curator of Science and Film. “With projects that explore the complexity of fertility treatments, living with climate change, and the history of injustice in the sciences, the 2022 nominees for the Sloan Student Prizes show the relevance of science to everyday, human issues. With guidance from the six industry professionals who have come aboard to mentor them, these filmmakers and their projects will soon be ready for wider exposure.”
Read the full list of finalists below.
The 2022 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize Finalists:
“Kokoro” by James Séamus Bearhart (Feature) — American Film Institute
“One Hand Washes the Other” by Malique Guinn (Feature) — Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama
“When It Thaws” by Anika Benkov (Feature) — Columbia University
“Vemork” by Malcolm Quinn Silver-Van Meter (Feature) — NYU Tisch School of the Arts
“Until We Keep Breathing” by Samantha Sewell (Pilot) — UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
“Toxic Bloom” by Ezra Lerner (Pilot) — USC School of Cinematic Arts
The 2022 Sloan Student Discovery Prize Finalists:
Nominated by public film programs without year-round screenplay development partnerships with the Sloan Foundation.
“In Vitro Veritas” by Cat Loerke (Pilot) — Brooklyn College Feirstein School of Cinema
“Woodside” by Gerard Symonette (Feature) — Florida State University
“Broken” by Zachary Tyler Vickers (Pilot) — Temple University
“u, me, and catastrophe” by Ben Servetah (Feature) — University of Michigan
“Highland” by Beverly Chukwu (Pilot) — University of Texas at Austin
The 2022 Sloan Student Prize writing mentors:
The finalists will be guided in their script revisions by these six industry professionals:
Barnett Brettler is a previous winner of the Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize for his scientific thriller “Waking Hours” (2013). He was named on Tracking Board’s 2016 Young and Hungry List when he adapted The Monolith for Lionsgate and 3 Arts, and has since adapted such novels as Kill Someone by Luke Smitherd; Allan Quatermain by H.R. Haggard; and Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman, which is being produced by Ridley Scott. He is also a union story analyst and has worked with various studios, agencies, and production companies in development.
Michelle McPhillips is the development coordinator at Paper Pictures, a Los Angeles–based film and television production company. She previously worked in feature development at Warner Bros. Pictures and in the book-to-film department of Creative Artists Agency. She holds a B.A. in English & Film Studies from Barnard College of Columbia University.
Gabrielle Nadig is the head of development and production at Storm City Films. Projects produced by Gabrielle have premiered at Sundance, Tribeca and SXSW. Her previous films include Little Woods, Outside the Wire, Standing Up Falling Down, The Sunlit Night, and King Jack. Gabrielle is a 2013 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow, a 2016 Women at Sundance Fellow, a Producers Award finalist at the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards, and an alumnus of the 2015 Rotterdam Producing Labs and the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Producers Network.
Nicole Poritzky is a creative executive at Impact, where she uses her creative development background to help emerging writers cultivate their stories and find a path to success. Previously, she worked at Mandeville Films and Paradigm Talent Agency. Nicole received her B.A. from USC School of Cinematic Arts and is originally from outside Boston, Massachusetts.
Clay Pruitt is the head of programming, impact distribution at Seed&Spark in Los Angeles. He has worked for the Sundance Institute, Palm Springs International Film Festival & ShortFest, AFM, Outfest, Film Independent, WME, and in a development role for Michael Sucsy. He was a writer and producer on I’m Fine (Dekkoo), an Associate Producer on United Skates, a 2018 Film Independent Producing Lab Fellow with Bell, and a recipient of the Sloan Producing Lab Grant.
Ioana Uricaru is a Romanian-American filmmaker whose work, such as her feature “Lemonade” (2018), has screened in the Official Selections at the Cannes, Berlin, Sundance, Tribeca, and AFI film festivals. Ioana was nominated for the Independent Spirit ‘Someone to Watch‘ Award and is a recipient of the Sloan Production Award and the Sundance Sloan Commissioning Grant. Ioana is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, and of the American Academy in Rome.