omplete QPORIT: THE SLOAN FOUNDATION AT HIFF 2010 (& BEYOND...)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

 

THE SLOAN FOUNDATION AT HIFF 2010 (& BEYOND...)


The Sloan Foundation
(officially the Alfred P Sloan Foundation) is primarily known for its support of scientific research. It has made many grants that have kick-started incredibly important research projects. The Census of Marine Life, supported by the Sloan Foundation has recently been in the news. Another project that comes to mind immediately is the Sloan Digital Sky Survey: the Sloan Foundation sponsored a detailed investigation of the objects in the universe that can be seen from Earth. This survey has been a cornerstone of modern cosmology, a field which may be seeing, currently, the most exciting developments in any observational/experimental branch of science at the moment. Our growing knowledge of the universe has dramatically changed our perspective on cosmology in the past ten years or so.

The Lagoon Nebula -- nearly 3 light-years wide
Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys
NASA PICTURE OF THE DAY
The colors map emissions from ionized gas in the nebula
sculpted by the energetic light and winds from the region's new born stars.
The nebula is a star-forming region in the constellation Sagittarius
The SLOAN FOUNDATION
Directly and indirectly supports research in cosmology!

The Sloan Foundation also has a program which supports the Arts, including film and theater, in an attempt to increase the “Public Understanding of Science and Technology” in diverse media.

The Sloan Public Understanding of Science and Technology initiative is run by Doron Weber.

Doron Weber
HIFF/SLOAN SCREENPLAY READING
Photo by Eric Roffman

The Sloan Foundation has been a long time sponsor of the Hamptons International Film Festival. Among their contributions to the festival are a significant prize to a film that “features a realistic and compelling portrayal of science and technology”; a panel discussion, usually related to the prize-winning film; a reception, where scientists and filmmakers mingle -- and hopefully conspire, and a reading from screenplays supported by the Sloan Foundation and HIFF.

During the year, there is a period when writers may submit a screenplay for participation in a writer’s workshop during the spring or summer. Here are stories on the workshop announcements the past two years:


HIFF 10th ANNUAL SCREENWRITERS LAB 2010
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2009/11/hiff-screenwriters-lab.html

HIFF 9TH ANNUAL SCREENWRITERS LAB SUBMISSIONS
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2008/12/hiff-9th-annual-screenwriters-lab.html

Submissions for the next year generally take place sometime in the winter after HIFF, with the Workshop taking place in the Spring before the next HIFF.

This year, excerpts from two scripts were read at HIFF.

Todd Krainin
Author of TUBE WARS
HIFF/SLOAN SCREENPLAY READING
Photo by Eric Roffman


The first script, TUBE WARS, by Todd Krainin, is about the struggle between Philo Farnsworth and David Sarnoff over patents for television. It covers much the same territory as the Broadway play, The Farnsworth Invention by Aaron Sorkin. The style is different, the medium is different and, on the evidence from the reading, the way the personality of Farnsworth is presented is very different. In addition to being different from The Farnsworth Invention, TUBE WARS also faces the challenge of being different from Flash of Genius, (the 2008 Sloan Prize winner) another film about an inventor defending his right to a patent -- in this case the inventor of the windshield wiper timing/delay mechanism, who was pitted against car manufacturers.

The second film script presented was BYSTANDER, by Robert Cohen, about the investigation into reasons -- psychological and social -- that people did not call police to report the rape and murder of Kitty Genovese, despite the fact that witnesses had heard the commotion for 30 minutes or so.

The portion of this script that was read dealt mainly with academic politics -- the relations between a professor and his department chairman and his graduate student; how grants were to be supported; and what research could and should be conducted.

The challenge for every narrative play about real people doing research is to

(a - characters) make the personalities and interpersonal relationships real, interesting, believable, fresh, and unlike those in other similar stories

(b - underpinning of science and technology) make the research and the work itself interesting, understandable, and fresh, with new information and relevant insights.

(c - plot) make the plot interesting, believable, understandable and fresh.

"Interesting," "Believable," "Understandable," "Fresh" ... Similar tasks for characters, the underpinning of science and technology, and plot. It's hard to make a good script. It takes real brilliance to create a breakout film.

The readings were well done, with an exceptional cast that contributed their time, their skills and great energy.

Both readings were directed by Jan Anania and were produced and cast by Amy Devra Gossels.

The Team
HIFF/SLOAN SCREENPLAY READING
Photo by Eric Roffman



BYSTANDER by Robert Cohen

Jordan Baker - Narrator
John Michael Bolger - John Darling / George Felder
Scott Cohen - Swingley
Alison Edwards - Various People
Ned Eisenberg - Joe Kelly
Will Janowitz - Boy 1
Kevin Kliner - Various People
Natalie Knepp - Various People
Michael Stuhlbarg - Bob Little


Will Janowitz and Kevin Kliner
Reading TUBE WARS
HIFF/SLOAN SCREENPLAY READING
Photo by Eric Roffman

TUBE WARS by Todd Krainin

Jordan Baker - Various People
John Michael Bolger - William Mitchell / George Everson
Scott Cohen - Various People
Alison Edwards - Narrator
Ned Eisenberg - Zworykin
Will Janowitz -Philo Farnsworth
Kevin Kliner - Sarnoff
Natalie Knepp - Pem / Various People
Michael Stuhlbarg - Various People

Natalie Knepp
HIFF/SLOAN SCREENPLAY READING
Photo by Eric Roffman

Here is a list of the films that have won the Sloan Feature Film Prize in the last 11 festivals

ALFRED P. SLOAN FEATURE FILM PRIZE 2000-2010
2000: SONGCATCHER, directed by Maggie Greenwald
2001: ENIGMA, directed by Michael Apted
2002: TEKNOLUST, directed by Lynn Hershman
2003: KINSEY, directed by Bill Condon
2004: MADNESS AND GENIUS, directed by Ryan Eslinger
2005: KARDIA, directed by Su Rynard
2006: THE FOUNTAIN, directed by Darren Aronofsky
2007: THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, directed by Julian Schnabel
2008: FLASH OF GENIUS, directed by Marc Abraham
2009: AGORA, directed by Alejandro Amenábar
2010: BENEATH HILL 60 by Jeremy Sims

Many of these films, as well as the screenplays at the reading, are narrative (not documentary!) films about real people and real events. It is rare for the award to be given to a film not based on a real person or real event, a purely fictional film like The Fountain. But then, again, it is very rare for purely fictional films to deal in a realistic way with science and technology, and you can't give a prize to a film that hasn't been made. Doron Weber has on numerous occasions made a point of saying they’d be delighted to find a comedy they could support.

Some screenplays they have supported in the past are (perhaps slowly) moving toward a production.

Two stories which may be furthest along are a story about the mathematician Ramanujan and his relationship with the English mathematics professor, G. H. Hardy (a topic that was also the subject of the recent theatrical piece, “A Disappearing Number” by Complicite), and the story of Hedy Lamarr, who in addition to having a very interesting life as a personality and a beautiful movie star, was the co-inventor (the beautiful co-inventor -- inventors can be beautiful) of frequency hopping (U.S. Patent 2,292,387), a technology of great importance in technology today (such as cell phone transmission systems).


The Sloan Foundation has supported The Tribeca Film Festival and many Film Study programs as well as HIFF.


The Poster for
PHOTOGRAPH 51
at the ENSEMBLE STUDIO THEATER

In theatrical development, Sloan has partnered with a number of theaters. The Ensemble Studio Theater (EST) in New York is currently presenting a full length play, supported by the Sloan Foundation, Photograph 51 (about the development of the Double Helix model of DNA), . Each year the First Light program encourages the submission of plays with science and technology at their core, which are then developed in workshops.

Sloan has partnerships with other theaters as well, including Playwrights Horizons, and the Manhattan Theater Club. While the Sloan Foundation monitors the projects from these theaters, the programs are managed and run by the theaters themselves.

To participate in one of these programs, some attention is required to notice the submission dates for each of the programs. They are announced "from time to time." Here are some links to some of the major programs affiliated with the Sloan Foundation, including in some cases links or information about the submission process, and in other cases links to information about projects they have supported.

EST is currently accepting submissions, and currently presenting a play sponsored by the Sloan Foundation.


ENSEMBLE STUDIO THEATER (EST)


http://ensemblestudiotheatre.org/


EST is currently accepting scripts for the First Light Program through November 1, 2010.

http://ensemblestudiotheatre.org/programs/estsloan-project/sloan-submissions/


Here's some interesting information about the play, Photograph 51, which is currently playing at EST, with links to information about the discovery of the Double Helix.

http://ensemblestudiotheatre.org/now-playing/current-productions/photograph-51/


MANHATTAN THEATER CLUB (MTC)

http://www.manhattantheatreclub.com/about_sloan.asp



PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZONS


http://www.playwrightshorizons.org/workph.html



TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL (TFF)


Here's an article from the Tribeca Film Institute about the TFF partnership with Sloan:

http://www.tribecafilminstitute.org/sloan/at_the_fest/


HAMPTONS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (HIFF)

For HIFF submissions, follow the HIFF main site, or subscribe to withoutabox and put yourself on the watch list for HIFF.

http://www.hamptonsfilmfest.org/

http://www.withoutabox.com/

Here are our articles on the last two HIFF Screenwriters Labs:

HIFF 10th ANNUAL SCREENWRITERS LAB 2010
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2009/11/hiff-screenwriters-lab.html

HIFF 9TH ANNUAL SCREENWRITERS LAB SUBMISSIONS
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2008/12/hiff-9th-annual-screenwriters-lab.html



The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The Sloan Foundation
Public Understanding of Science and Technology Initiative



For (much) more about HIFF 2010...

QPORIT: HIFF 2010

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

TWITTER UPDATES:

    follow me on Twitter


    QPORIT --
    Quick PREVIEWS Of Random Interesting Things

    (c) Copyright 2005-2009 Eric H. Roffman
    All rights reserved