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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 2022 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:

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 Writing Mentors:

Barnett Brettler is a previous winner of the Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize for his scientific thriller Waking Hours (2013). He was named on Tracking Board's 2016 Young and Hungry List when he adapted The Monolith for Lionsgate and 3 Arts, and has since adapted such novels as Kill Someone by Luke Smitherd; Allan Quatermain by H.R. Haggard; and Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman, which is being produced by Ridley Scott. He is also a union story analyst and has worked with various studios, agencies, and production companies in development.

Michelle McPhillips is the Development Coordinator at Paper Pictures, a Los Angeles–based film and television production company. She previously worked in feature development at Warner Bros. Pictures and in the book-to-film department of Creative Artists Agency. She holds a B.A. in English & Film Studies from Barnard College of Columbia University. 

Gabrielle Nadig is the Head of Development and Production at Storm City Films. Projects produced by Gabrielle have premiered at Sundance, Tribeca, and SXSW. Her previous films include Little Woods, Outside the Wire, Standing Up Falling Down, The Sunlit Night, and King Jack. Gabrielle is a 2013 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow, a 2016 Women at Sundance Fellow, a Producers Award finalist at the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards, and an alumnus of the 2015 Rotterdam Producing Labs and the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Producers Network. 

Nicole Poritzky is a Creative Executive at Impact, where she uses her creative development background to help emerging writers cultivate their stories and find a path to success. Previously, she worked at Mandeville Films and Paradigm Talent Agency. Nicole received her B.A. from USC School of Cinematic Arts and is originally from outside Boston, Massachusetts.

Clay Pruitt is the Head of Programming, Impact Distribution at Seed&Spark in Los Angeles. He has worked for the Sundance Institute, Palm Springs International Film Festival & ShortFest, AFM, Outfest, Film Independent, WME, and in a development role for Michael Sucsy. He was a writer and producer on I'm Fine (Dekkoo), an Associate Producer on United Skates, a 2018 Film Independent Producing Lab Fellow with Bell, and a recipient of the Sloan Producing Lab Grant.

Ioana Uricaru is a Romanian-American filmmaker whose work, such as her feature Lemonade (2018), has screened in the Official Selections at the Cannes, Berlin, Sundance, Tribeca, and AFI film festivals. Ioana was nominated for the Independent Spirit “Someone to Watch” Award and is a recipient of the Sloan Production Award and the Sundance Sloan Commissioning Grant. Ioana is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin and of the American Academy in Rome.

2021 Jurors:

Bethanie Edwards  

Alexis Galfas 

Wendy Ju 

Natalie Qasabian  

Cara Seymour  

Emily Thompson


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