The Tribeca Film Institute has unveiled its grant winners for this year’s TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, which supports filmmakers with cash and guidance on their films that focus on science, math and technology. It’s always a cool bunch of projects in a genre that is surely underserved, and with this year’s batch of winners getting $150,000 the fund has now awarded more than $1 million in its 12-year history. This year’s three winners include Imitation Game, based on the life of British mathematician and logician Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch; the Weinstein Company acquired it for $7M at EFM this year, the highest price ever for a U.S. rights deal there. (With that kind of cash in the mix I guess the Sloan grant is more of a tip-of-the-hat kind of thing.) Recent TFI Sloan projects include 2030, the climate change pic from Vietnam that opened the Panorama section this year in Berlin; the Sundance pic and Indie Spirit Award nominee Computer Chess; and Focus’ A Birder’s Guide To Everything starring Ben Kingsley and Kodi Smit-McPhee. This year’s recipients, chosen by a jury that included John Slattery, Meg Ryan, Dark Knight scribe Jonathan Nolan, will be honored at the Tribeca fest that kicks off April 17. Part of the Alfred P Sloan Foundation-sponsored events this year include a 10-year retrospective screening and panel for Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind on April 21. Here are this year’s winners:
· Afronauts – March 1965. The US and the USSR race to put a man on the moon. Thousands of kilometers away, a recently-disgraced group of Zambian exiles is also attempting a mission into Space. Inspired by the true story of the Zambia Space Academy. Director/Screenwriter Frances N. Bodomo is a Ghanaian filmmaker who grew up in Ghana, Norway, California, and Hong Kong before moving to New York to study at Columbia University (BA, Film Studies) and the Tisch School of the Arts (MFA, Film).
· Imitation Game – The life of British mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, who cracked the German “Enigma” Code to change the direction of WWII and is heralded as the pioneer of modern day computing. Benedict Cumberbatch stars with Keira Knightley, Mark Strong, and Matthew Goode. Director Morten Tyldum was nominated for a 2013 BAFTA award for Norway’s all-time top grossing film, Headhunters, based on Jo Nesbø’s novel. His first full-length feature, in 2003, was Buddy, winner of Best Film at Norway’s Amanda Awards. Screenwriter Graham Moore is the New York Times bestselling author of The Sherlockian, a mystery novel, which has been published in 16 countries and translated into 13 languages. His script for The Imitation Game topped the 2012 Black List, Hollywood’s list of best unproduced screenplays of the year and was the highest scoring script in the Black List’s decade-long history.
· Venus Transit – Iris, an old astrophysicist, needs to reach Palomar to keep the promise she made her late husband to watch the transit of Venus. She finds a driver and eventually an unexpected friend in Hannah, a fortysomething chick-lit novelist going through a marriage crisis. Screenwriter Giulia Corda graduated summa cum laude from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. She then pursued her screenwriting education in both Rome and Milan. After an early career working for RAI, the Italian national TV channel, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and moved to Los Angeles to attend the M.F.A. screenwriting program at the University of Southern California.