Filmmaker Wins $100,000 toward Production of a Feature Length Film
The Kanbar Institute of Film & Television at Tisch School of the Arts has announced that Undergraduate Film Division alumnus Musa Syeed (‘06) is the 2008-09 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Production Fund Award winner. The Sloan Foundation Award supports outstanding young filmmakers in creating compelling feature-length narrative projects about science and technology, and it provides for a $100,000 cash prize toward the production of a film.
“This award has made it possible for our student and alumni writers and filmmakers, in collaboration with a science advisor, to expand their reach into new fields by engaging the worlds of science and technology,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of the Tisch School of the Arts. “We not only applaud the Foundation’s goal to increase the public’s understanding through films of this kind, but are grateful for the encouragement it offers our students through this award and the Sloan Writing and Production award programs. Both have provided a real incentive for our students while also having an enormous influence on how we train great writers to research substantive films.”
“We are delighted to join NYU Tisch in supporting this first feature by a very promising young filmmaker,” said Doron Weber, Sloan Program Director. “Recent Sloan-winning films like Flash of Genius and Adam, coupled with Sloan projects in development like Face Value, the story of Hedy Lamarr, the invention of frequency hopping to be directed by Amy Redford, and Cockeyed, a coming-of-age story about adult-onset blindness to be directed by Jodie Foster, show that science and technology offer rich opportunities and rewards for the best filmmakers. We are proud to have Musa Syeed’s Providence join this select group.”
Providence tells the story of a poor Kashmiri boat driver and an American scientist who work to uncover the sources of pollution in Kashmir’s main lake. “NYU has opened so many doors for me, from providing great mentors to creating opportunities like working with the Sloan Foundation,” said the filmmaker. “I really admire the Foundation’s vision, and I feel very honored to receive this award and join the community of amazing filmmakers that they support.”
Syeed, born and raised in Indiana, is the recipient of a 2005-2006 Fulbright Fellowship to Egypt. He was the co-producer of A Son’s Sacrifice, directed by fellow alumnus Yoni Brooks, which won Best Short Documentary at both the Tribeca Film Festival and the International Documentary Association Awards in 2007. The filmmaker’s most recent film, Bronx Princess, co-directed and co-produced with his collaborator Brooks, will air nationally on the PBS series POV on September 22, 2009. The film was in competition at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival and won Best Short Documentary at the 2009 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
In 1996, the Sloan Foundation partnered with half a dozen of the nation’s top film schools in a pioneering effort to create more realistic and compelling stories about science and technology, and to challenge existing stereotypes of scientists and engineers in commercial film and television. In 2002, the Kanbar Institute filmmakers were the first recipients of the Sloan Foundation’s new Feature Film Production Award.
The New York based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants in science, technology, economics, and the quality of American life. Sloan’s program in public understanding of science and technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater, and the Internet to reach a wide, non-specialized audience.
Over the past ten years, Sloan has partnered with six of the top film schools in the country-AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, and USC-and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production. In addition to Sloan Screenplay Development Programs that have initiated such film projects as “Face Value,” the Hedy Lamarr story, slated for shooting in January, the Foundation has sponsored screenwriting and film production workshops at Sundance, the Hamptons, the Tribeca Film Institute, and Film Independent, and honored new feature films such as the forthcoming “Adam” (Fox Searchlight) and recent films such as “Flash of Genius,”” Sleep Dealer,” and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” Sloan is also a longtime supporter of new science plays at the Ensemble Studio Theater and Manhattan Theater Club, of the John Adams’ opera “Doctor Atomic” and of the upcoming World Science Festival. For more information, please visit www.sloan.org.