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$70,000 in fellowships has been awarded to filmmakers Temi Ojo and Mark Ingber for uplifting science in narrative films




$70,000 in fellowships has been awarded to filmmakers Temi Ojo and Mark Ingber for uplifting science in narrative films

in partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the nation’s leading philanthropic grantor for science and the arts—has announced the recipients of fellowships from their signature program, the SFFILM Sloan Science in Cinema Initiative. SFFILM launched the program in 2015 to celebrate and highlight cinema that brings together science and the art of storytelling, showing how these two seemingly disparate areas can combine to enhance the power of one another. The selections are meant to immerse a broad public audience in the challenges and rewards of scientific discovery, as well as to engage members of the scientific community. 


The initiative includes exhibition programs, awards, and screenwriting fellowships that foster collaboration between scientists and artists and elevate filmmakers who tackle scientific or technological themes and characters.


“The scientific process, much like filmmaking, requires patience, vision, crucial support at the early stages, and celebration when experiments and projects come to fruition,” SFFILM Executive Director Anne Lai says of the program. “We are so proud to be in partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for our Science in Cinema Initiative. Through these programs are able to support filmmaking fellows as they hone their stories, and we get to elevate the impact of science with our movie-going audiences. We are grateful for this meaningful partnership and the material impact it has on filmmakers and audiences alike.”


“We are thrilled to partner with SFFILM to announce the 2022 winners of the Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships, part of our nationwide program to support films depicting scientific themes or characters and to highlight the contributions of underrepresented groups,” said Doron Weber,Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “This year’s two terrific winning projects, a social comedy about winemaking in the south of France and a harrowing drama about the first Black man to undergo face transplant surgery in the US, showcase not just the range and diversity of subject matter in this program but the ways science and technology are redefining and remaking reality in contemporary life.”



Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships


Two filmmakers have been selected to receive Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships, which will support the development of their narrative feature screenplays. The fellowship is designed to ensure that narrative feature films that tell compelling stories about the worlds of science and technology continue to be made and seen. From an open call for submissions, the 2022 Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships have been awarded to two outstanding filmmakers.


Microchip engineer-turned-filmmaker Temi Ojo’s screenplay A Man with a Missing Face tells the story of an elderly Black man undergoing a life-risking face transplant surgery. His daughter must reconcile her emotional trauma with the new person her father is becoming. Ojo’s project is Inspired by the true story of Robert Chelsea, the first Black man and oldest person to date to receive a full face transplant. 


Filmmaker Mark Ingber delves into the world of winemaking for his screenplay Terroir. When Marianne, a rebellious biochemistry PhD candidate, is called back from university to her family's failing Bordeaux vineyard, she inadvertently plummets the winery into an existential crisis when, in an attempt to save the business, she creates a wine in a laboratory better than any ever made from their grapes. 


"The SFFILM Sloan Science in Cinema Fellowship has been a cornerstone to our array of SFFILM Makers artist development programs,” says Masashi Niwano, SFFILM Director of Artist Development. “It gives us the opportunity to elevate outstanding filmmakers like Temi and Mark while providing targeted support for their scripts. We can sharpen the science realistically and give them professional resources to deepen their craft.”


Winners of the Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship will receive a $35,000 cash grant and a two-month residency at FilmHouse, SFFILM’s suite of production offices for local and visiting independent filmmakers. The residency program provides filmmakers with artistic guidance, office space, a vibrant creative community, and mentorship from established filmmakers and members of the independent film industry. To strengthen their film’s portrayal of science or technology, each fellow will be connected to a science advisor with expertise in the subjects at the center of their screenplays, as well as leaders in the Bay Area’s science and technology communities.


“We are excited to be awarding this grant to two powerful projects that explore fascinating scientific advancements while also addressing socially prevalent issues through artful storytelling,” the prize’s review committee said in a statement. “From a comedic and nuanced story about a struggling winery and how the advancement of synthetic wine may either make it or break it, to a heartfelt true story of a major life-changing surgery and the complicated journey to healing, both films lead conversations on the application of controversial technologies and how we grapple with truth, identity, the vital questions society must address, and how science holds the answers. We are thrilled to be able to support the distinct voices of these writers and their unique approaches to storytelling. SFFILM and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are excited to continue to work together in championing films and filmmakers that inspire and expand the public understanding of science and technology.”


The review committee members who reviewed the finalists’ projects included: Aneeta Akhurst, Vice President of Content & Community, XPRIZE; Brad Balukjian, Ph.D., Director of Natural History & Sustainability Program at Merritt College; Patrick House, Ph.D., writer and neuroscientist; Rosa Morales, Artist Development Associate Manager of Narrative Programs at SFFILM; Masashi Niwano, Director of Artist Development at SFFILM; Kelly Sutherland, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Biology at Oregon Institute of Marine Biology; Indre Viskontas, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology at University of San Francisco; and Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


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