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Sloan Student Grand Jury and Discovery Prizes

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Museum of the Moving Image and Sloan Science & Film, in partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, award the annual Sloan Student Grand Jury and Discovery Prizes to emerging filmmakers from select schools across the nation. The winners are honored at an awards ceremony at MoMI, with work-in-progress presentations featured as part of the Museum’s annual First Look Festival.

The Sloan Student Grand Jury and Discovery Prizes celebrate two outstanding feature film or scripted series screenplays annually—from those nominated by twelve top graduate film programs—that integrate science or technology themes and characters into a realistic, compelling, and timely story. Two winners, selected by a jury of esteemed film and science professionals, receive a $20,000 prize and are provided industry exposure, feedback, and year-round mentorship from a science advisor and film industry professional. These prizes aim to support film development and advance the careers of diverse, emerging filmmakers interested in science and technology as they transition out of graduate school and into the film industry.

The Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize, first established by the Tribeca Film Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 2011, will be awarded through a nomination process conducted by the six leading university film schools that partner year-round with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. They are: American Film Institute; Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama; Columbia University Film Department; NYU Tisch School of the Arts; UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television; and USC School of Cinematic Arts. Each school will nominate one screenplay or scripted series pilot from those that have been recognized for its realistic and compelling depictions of science and technology themes or characters. The Grand Jury Prize is awarded to the best-of-the-best from these program partners.

The Sloan Student Discovery Prize, established in 2019, expands the pool of applicants to nominations from six public universities with established graduate film programs. The schools are: Brooklyn College Feirstein School of Cinema; Florida State University; SUNY Purchase School of Film and Media Studies; Temple University; University of Texas at Austin; and University of Michigan. Each school nominates one screenplay or scripted series pilot for consideration by the jury.

About the Prizes:

  • Applications are accepted by nomination only.
  • Applicants can submit a feature film screenplay or a pilot with series treatment.
  • Scripts should prominently feature science, engineering, mathematics, or technology in the story.
  • Finalists will be expected to go through one round of notes with an assigned writing mentor and then submit a revised screenplay with a formal application in fall to be reviewed by a jury of science and film industry professionals.
  • Each award comes with a $20,000 prize and year-round mentorship from a science and film industry advisor.
  • The winners will be celebrated at a public awards ceremony at Museum of the Moving Image.
  • The winning screenplays will be showcased at MoMI's annual First Look Festival with a session dedicated to screenplay readings and feedback.
  • MoMI staff will oversee the distribution of funds to the winning filmmaker and will monitor the ways in which those funds are used.


Previous Grand Jury and Discovery Prize Winners:

Samantha SewellUntil Then We Keep Breathing (2022 Grand Jury Prize)

Gerard ShakaWoodside (2022 Discovery Prize)

Marisa Torelli-PedevskaStarlight (2021 Grand Jury Prize)

Juli JacksonDelta (2021 Discovery Prize)

Zoe FleerClamming (2020 Discovery Prize)

Matthew JackettWhite Coffins (2020 Grand Jury Prize)

Anderson Cook, James Thomas Thinks the Earth Is Flat (2019 Grand Jury Prize)

Andrew RodriguezPlus (2019 Discovery Prize)

Jeremy PalmerThe Valley of Dry Bones (2018 Grand Jury Prize)

Annie PulsipherThe Glowing Gene (2017 Grand Jury Prize)

Shawn Snyder & Jason BegueTo Dust (2016 Grand Jury Prize)

Savannah ReichDeep Sea Divers of 1929 (2015 Grand Jury Prize)

Laura AlsumSurvival of the Fittest (2014 Grand Jury Prize)

Barnett BrettlerWaking Hours (2013 Grand Jury Prize)

Grainger DavidPenny Stock (2012 Grand Jury Prize)

Robert CohenBystander (2011 Grand Jury Prize)

To learn more about the Sloan Film Program and browse all previous winners, visit


2022 Jurors:

Dr. Kate Biberdorf (aka “Kate the Chemist”) is a chemist, science entertainer, and professor at The University of Texas. Through her theatrical and hands-on approach to teaching, Dr. Biberdorf is breaking down the image of the stereotypical scientist, while reaching students who might otherwise be intimidated by science. Students' emotional responses, rather than rote memorization of facts, are key to Biberdorf's dynamic approach to her program, as well as science in general. Her exciting and engaging program leaves audiences with a positive, memorable impression of science—all while diminishing the stigma around women in science. She has appeared on The Today Show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, NBC Nightly News, The Wendy Williams Show, The Rachael Ray Show, The Nick Cannon Show, and Late Night with Stephen Colbert. 

Jessica Hargrave is the producer of Good Night Oppy, a film about the surprising bond that formed between a robot and a team of scientists and engineers at NASA. Prior to Oppy, Hargrave most recently produced Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker (MTV), which was shortlisted for the Academy Award and won best documentary short at Tribeca. She is also the producer of Assassins, an Emmy-nominated film about the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, and executive producer of Visible: Out on Television, the first documentary series on Apple TV+ which explores the history of the LGBTQ movement through the lens of television. Hargrave is the producer of Ask Dr. Ruth (Hulu), executive producer of The Keepers (Netflix), producer/writer of Good Ol’ Freda (Magnolia Pictures), and the co-producer of The Case Against 8 (HBO), which was nominated for two Emmys and shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Hargrave was the producer of marketing and distribution for Pelada (PBS, Cinetic), a journey around the world through the lens of pick-up soccer. She is a mentor with #Startwith8Hollywood and WIF.

Naomi Lorrain is a Harlem-based actor/playwright. She is an AUDELCO Awards nominee and a NY Innovative Theatre Awards nominee for Best Lead Actress for Behind the Sheetand Entangled, respectively. Her play how to roll a blunt was a 2021 Finalist at the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Theater: Mark It Down(Williamstown Theatre Festival), Behind the Sheet (Ensemble Studio Theatre), What to Send Up When It Goes Down (The Movement Theatre Company), Entangled (The Amoralist). TV: Orange Is the New Black (Netflix), Elementary (CBS), The Good Fight(CBS All Access), Madam Secretary (CBS).

Dr. Hannah Landecker is a historian and sociologist of the life sciences. She holds a joint appointment in the Life and Social Sciences at UCLA, where she is a professor both in the Sociology Department and in the Institute for Society and Genetics, an interdisciplinary unit at UCLA committed to cultivating research and pedagogy at the interface of the life and human sciences. Landecker is the author of Culturing Life: How Cells Became Technologies (Harvard UP, 2007), and has written widely on biotechnology and the intersection of biology and film. Her more recent work concerns the rise of antibiotic resistance, and the history and sociology of metabolism and epigenetics.

Dr.  Anita Perr is an occupational therapist on the faculty of the New York University Occupational Therapy Department. Anita teaches courses related to assistive technology, mobility and community-based function. Her areas of interest include facilitating participation by disabled people in their preferred activities. She is a founding director of the NYU Ability Project, an interdisciplinary, client-facing space focused on the intersection between disability and technology. She has authored book chapters and articles related to assistive technology (AT), mobility, and community-based participation, including access to exhibits in museums and historic sites. She is driven by creating AT solutions and assisting others in reaching their best outcomes. Outside of work, she enjoys both nearby and international travel and spoiling her pug, Princess Gigi Valasquez.

Franklin jin Rho is currently a writer/producer on the upcoming Sony/Disney+ series Goosebumps. He has previously written on Pachinko, Swamp Thing, and The Exorcist. Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Franklin grew up with a passion for auteur-driven art-house cinema that ultimately led him to the Directing Program at the AFI Conservatory. His thesis film The Monster and the Peanut, which played at myriad film festivals, was the recipient of a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and won the first prize Emmy® for Best Dramatic Student film in 2004 from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Prior to breaking into television, Franklin was a Film Independent Project Involve Directing Fellow and a Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) New Writers Fellow.

2021 Jurors:

Bethanie Edwards  

Alexis Galfas 

Wendy Ju 

Natalie Qasabian  

Cara Seymour  

Emily Thompson


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