Sundance Film Fest 2008: Sleep Dealer Wins Alfred Sloan Prize

January 25, 2008–The 2008 Sundance Film Festival is pleased to announce that SLEEP DEALER, directed by Alex Rivera, is the recipient of this years Alfred P. Sloan Prize. The Prize, which carries a $20,000 cash award to the filmmaker provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is presented to an outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character.

The Prize will be presented at the Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony on Saturday, January 26. SLEEP DEALER, which is Rivera's feature film debut, was developed at the 2000 and 2001 Sundance Institute Feature Film Program Labs, and was also a recipient of the 2002 Sundance/NHK award and a 2004 Annenberg Feature Film Fellowship.

SLEEP DEALER is a story set in a near future in which technology has re-framed the human condition. The film, which screened in Dramatic Competition, was selected “for its visionary and humane tale of a young man grappling with a technological future in which neural implants, telerobotics and ubiquitous computing serve a global economy rife with fundamental challenges and opportunities, and for its powerful and original storytelling and direction.”

The Alfred P. Sloan Prize is a major component of the Sundance Science-in-Film Initiative, which is made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Initiative supports the development and exhibition of new
independent film projects that explore science and technology themes or that depict scientists, engineers and mathematicians in engaging and innovative ways.

In addition to the Prize, the Initiative presents a panel discussion at the Festival that brings together scientists and filmmakers to explore compelling, contemporary issues regarding science in film; and, in the Sundance Feature Film Program, the Initiative supports the Sloan Commissioning Fund, which provides resources for Initiative projects early
in the development phase; and the Sloan Fellowship, which develops eligible projects at the Sundance Feature Film Labs towards production. This Initiative blends the Sloan Foundations goal of enhancing public understanding of science and technology with Sundance Institutes mission to foster independent voices and compelling storytelling in film.

The winning film was selected by a committee of film and science professionals based on the quality of the films presentation of science and technology themes and/or characters. This years Alfred P. Sloan jury members include: Alan Alda, five-time Emmy Award winner, six-time Golden Globe winner, Academy Award nominee and bestselling author; Michael Polish, who made his feature film debut at 1999 Sundance Film Festival with TWIN FALLS IDAHO, which he directed, co-wrote and starred in with twin brother Mark Polish; Evan I. Schwartz, author of four books, the latest of which is Juice: The Creative FuelThat Drives World-Class Inventors (Harvard Business School Press); Benedict Schwegler Jr., chief scientist of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) Research & Development; John Underkoffler, chief scientist and co-founder of Oblong Industries,Inc., whose flagship product, g-speak, is the world's first mature & robust gestural computing platform.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

This effort at Sundance is part of a broader national program by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to stimulate leading artists in film, television, and theater; to create more authentic and compelling stories about science and technology; and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in the popular imagination.

Over the past ten years, the Foundation has partnered with some of the top film schools in the country–including AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, and USC–and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production and an annual first-feature award for alumni. The Foundation has also started an annual Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival and initiated new screenwriting workshops at the Hamptons and TriBeca Film Festival.

In addition, it continues to work with leading writer/producers and major studios to create more films, TV shows and TV movies featuring scientists, mathematicians and engineers. The New York-based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants in science, technology, and economic performance. The Foundations program in public understanding of science, directed by Program Director Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, and theatre, including not only Proof, Copenhagen, and Alan Aldas QED, but dozens of new plays from the Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Manhattan Theater Club, including the Broadway-bound play, The Secret Order.

Sundance Institute

Dedicated year-round to the development of artists of independent vision and to the exhibition of their new work, Sundance Institute celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2006. Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, the Institute has grown into an internationally recognized resource for thousands of independent artists through its Film Festival and artistic
development programs for filmmakers, screenwriters, composers, playwrights, and theatre artists. The original values of independence, creative risk-taking, and discovery continue to define and guide the work of Sundance Institute, both with U.S. artists and, increasingly, with artists from other regions of the world.