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Damien Chazelle’s film First Man is the 2018 recipient of the Sloan Science in Cinema Prize



Award Presented in Partnership between SFFILM and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Celebrates Outstanding Achievement in the Depiction of Science on Screen


SFFILM has announced that Damien Chazelle’s remarkable film First Man is the 2018 recipient of the Sloan Science in Cinema Prize, an award that celebrates the compelling depiction of science in a narrative feature film. Presented through a partnership between SFFILM and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, this annual award carries a $25,000 cash prize and shines a light on special achievement in rendering the worlds of science and technology through the language of film with a screening event and onstage conversation with the film’s creators and experts in the scientific fields being depicted.
SFFILM and the Sloan Foundation presented the award on Saturday, December 8 at the Castro Theatre, at an event for SFFILM members and invited guests from the Bay Area science, technology, and education communities. Following a screening of the film, Academy Award winning screenwriter Josh Singer, engineer and retired NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, and JPL and NASA scientist Dr. Leon Alkalai participated in an in-depth discussion of the science behind the story and its journey to the big screen.

Full video of the Q&A is available HERE.




Josh Singer, Steve Swanson, Leon Alkalai, and Noah Cowan

“The Sloan Foundation’s inspirational work in promoting science as a vehicle for human understanding finds a great match this year with First Man,” said SFFILM Executive Director Noah Cowan. “By deftly intertwining Neil Armstrong’s story of personal pain and loss with the inner workings of NASA’s most famous mission, gifted screenwriter Josh Singer, adapting James R. Hansen’s legendary biography, brings a remarkable sense of humanity and humility to this landmark achievement."
“Following two such magnificent previous winners as The Martian and Hidden Figures, we are delighted to partner with SFFILM in awarding this year’s Sloan Science in Cinema Prize to Damien Chazelle’s First Man,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Sloan Foundation. “Deliberately eschewing easy triumphalism, Chazelle’s rigorous film evokes the precise technological and human hurdles that had to be overcome to achieve one of humanity’s greatest triumphs, a giant leap for science and for mankind.”

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award®-winning smash La La Land, Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling team up again for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story behind the first manned mission to the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the decade leading to the historic Apollo 11 flight. A visceral and intimate account told from Armstrong’s perspective, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the film explores the triumphs and the cost—on Armstrong, his family, his colleagues and the nation itself—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.
The Sloan Science in Cinema Prize is presented annually in the fall to a finished film released in that year, and is a highlight of SFFILM’s end-of-year programming. Focusing on dramatic and entertaining films that illuminate the relevance of science and technology to our daily lives or challenge existing stereotypes about scientists, engineers, or mathematicians, SFFILM and Sloan Foundation seek to spotlight an important new film and provide a platform to celebrate science during the end-of-year awards season. Prize recipients are selected by a panel of Bay Area filmmakers; local scientists, mathematicians and engineers; and SFFILM staff.
This annual prize is a part of SFFILM’s Sloan Science in Cinema initiative, which is designed to develop and present new feature films and episodic content that portray fully-drawn scientist and technologist characters; immerse audiences in the challenges and rewards of scientific discovery; and increase public awareness of the intersection of science, technology and our daily lives. Leveraging its position in the heart of the innovation capital of the world, SFFILM seeks to forge meaningful links between Bay Area and national artistic and scientific communities through a suite of programs. In addition to the Sloan Science in Cinema Prize, the initiative includes the Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship, which supports filmmakers developing science-themed screenplays; and Sloan Science on Screen, a spotlight program at the San Francisco International Film Festival that debuted in 2016.
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To request press access to this event or to inquire about interview opportunities, contact  

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SFFILM Presents 
SFFILM produces a robust slate of public programs throughout the year, including red carpet premiere events, advance member screenings, and in-depth film series. With diverse offerings and a commitment to excellence in world cinema, SFFILM is the home of great film in the Bay Area all year long. For more information visit
SFFILM is a nonprofit organization with a mission to champion the world's finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area. Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival (April 10–23, 2019), SFFILM is a year-round nonprofit organization delivering screenings and events to nearly 75,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 12,000 students and teachers annually. In addition to its public programs, SFFILM supports the careers of independent filmmakers from the Bay Area and beyond with grants, residencies, and other creative development services. For more information visit

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