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Press Release - 2007 Sloan Winner Announced

The Tribeca Film Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation today announced that David Freeman has been selected as the winning screenwriter in the highly competitive Tribeca/Sloan Screenplay Development Program.
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Tribeca Film Institute and Sloan Foundation celebrate fifth year of thriving partnership
between film and science/technology

[New York, NY March 28, 2007]  The Tribeca Film Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation today announced that David Freeman has been selected as the winning screenwriter in the highly competitive Tribeca/Sloan Screenplay Development Program, which seeks to develop scripts with scientific and technological themes and/or characters. A committee consisting of film development and science professionals, selected Freeman’s project, A First Class Man. Freeman will receive financial support over the course of a year as he works on the script's development with the assistance of experts in the fields of screenwriting and mathematics selected by the program.

“We along with our partners at the Sloan Foundation offer our congratulations to David Freeman,” said Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Institute.

“As an organization devoted to enabling creative endeavors, we feel privileged to acknowledge and support talented writers like David Freeman,” said Tribeca Film Institute President Sydney Meeks.

“We are delighted to partner with Tribeca for the fifth year of this pioneering screenplay development program,” said Doron Weber, Program Director at the Sloan Foundation. “The life of Ramaujan, like other extraordinary figures in this script program—Rosalind Franklin, Edwin Hubble, Hedy Lamarr, Richard Feynman—is a testament to the richness and complexity of the human beings whose remarkable achievements have changed modern culture and society. Science and technology offer new and unparalleled creative opportunities for filmmakers and screenwriters and the Tribeca/Sloan program remains in the forefront of this wave.”

A First Class Man is a fictional examination of the life of Indian mathematician Srinivasa Aiyangar Ramanujan.  This tenderly poetic portrait of an unparalleled genius brings to life the influences that shaped Ramanujan. The screenplay tells the compelling story of the mysterious nature of genius and offers a glimpse into the delicate heart of a man removed from his culture as he makes his way through British academia.

David Freeman is a novelist, screenwriter, playwright and journalist. His books include “It’s All True,” a Hollywood novel, “One of Us,” a novel of Egypt and England, “A Hollywood Education,” a collection of stories about the daily life of the movie business and “The Last Days of Alfred Hitchcock,” a memoir of his time writing a script with the great director. His play, “Jesse and the Bandit Queen” played for 200 performances at The Public Theatre in New York and has since been performed around the world.  A stage version of “A First Class Man” played this past October at the 46th Street Theatre in New York.  Among the movies he’s written are “Street Smart” directed by Jerry Schatzberg, starring Christopher Reeve and Morgan Freeman, and “The Border,” directed by Tony Richardson, starring Jack Nicholson.  His essays, articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and many other publications.

During the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival, A First Class Man will be showcased with a reading of excerpts from the screenplay and a panel discussion to follow immediately.  The panel of prominent mathematicians and Freeman will be moderated by NPR’s Ira Flatow .The event will be held on Sunday April 29th at 2:00pm at the Soho Playhouse,15 Vandam Street.  Information and tickets are available by going to the Online Festival Guide at (search for “Sloan”).

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the partnership between the Tribeca Film Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Past screenplay award recipients include:  Nancy Isaak  (Glowworms), Jonathan Morano (Benjamin Garrett), David Baxter (Broken Code), Gretchen Somerfeld (Face Value), Shawn Lawrence Otto (Hubble), Penny Penniston (Now Then Again), Nicole Perlman(Challenger), Dan Zeff and Andrew Bendel (Project Mustard) and 2006 Signature Selection Kenneth Lonergan (The Starry Messenger). 

Several past winners of the screenplay development program have experienced great success recently.  Since being chosen to participate in the program, alumna Nicole Perlman has gone on to be named one of Variety’s 2006 “Ten Screenwriters to Watch” and been hired to do an adaptation of Marina Palmer’s memoir Kiss and Tango for Fox 2000 and Sandra Bullock.  Director Dan Zeff recently finished filming Marple: At Bertram’s Hotel, a co-production of British broadcasting network ITV and WGBH in Boston.  The cast includes Martine McCutcheon (Love Actually), Francesca Annis (The Libertine) and Polly Walker (Rome).  Academy Award nominated director Peter Bogdanovich has been attached to direct David Baxter’s Broken Code.  In addition, Baxter has been hired by producer Mike McCoy of Bandito Brothers to write a screenplay based on the life story of murdered auto racing promoter Mickey Thompson.  Producers Marina Grasic and Jan Körbelin (Crash, Alpha Dog and the upcoming The Great Buck Howard starring Tom Hanks and John Malkovich) are arranging financing for Face Value, written by Gretchen Somerfeld. Shawn Lawrence Otto has written Dreams of a Dying Heart.  The film will be directed by Sanaa Hamri for producers Kristin Harms and Larry Kennar and for Focus Features.

As part of the Sloan Science and Technology Series at Tribeca, which spotlights festival films that try and tackle these subjects in a variety of ways, Sloan will also co-present four world premieres during the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival – Michael Sellers’ Eye of the Dolphin, the Dara Bratt directed student short In Vivid Detail, Randall Millers’ Nobel Son and Fredi M. Murer’s Vitus and a discussion as part of the Tribeca Talks panel series.

Eye of the Dolphin is a touching family story about a 14 year-old girl named Alyssa who moves to the Bahamas with the father she never knew. Although it is a rocky start for the two, Alyssa soon embraces her father’s profession as a dolphin researcher and discovers she shares some of his talents. The film premieres Thursday, April 26, 7:00 pm, at the AMC Village VII Theater.

In Vivid Detail follows the life of Justin, an architect who suffers from prosopagnosia, a neurological disorder that makes him incapable of recognizing faces. An unusual love story ensues. The film stars John Ventimiglia and Piper Perabo and was funded in part by a production grant from the Sloan Foundation’s program with NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. The film will premiere as part of Express Stops Only, a shorts program, on Sunday April 29th at 2pm at Borough of Manhattan Community College.
A taut thriller spiked with droll humor, Nobel Son is a film about a Ph.D. candidate Barkley (Bryan Greenberg) who is kidnapped the night before his father Eli (Alan Rickman) will receive the Nobel Prize. When Eli refuses to pay a ransom equal to the $2 million prize, secrets, betrayal and revenge collide. The film also stars Bill Pullman, Danny DeVito, Mary Steenburgen, Ted Danson, Ernie Hudson and Eliza Dushku and has its debut on Saturday, April 28, 2:00 pm at the Clearview Chelsea West Theater.

Vitus is the story of a child prodigy in music and math who yearns for a "normal" life with his parents and eccentric grandfather in this charming family drama, starring German actor Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire; Downfall). While his parents plan a future of piano competitions, Vitus would rather learn to fly. The film chronicles his search for an adult who will allow him to do so. The film premieres on Friday, April 27, 8:30 pm, at the PACE University Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts.


About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The New York based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants in science, technology and the quality of Americn 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.

Sloan’s partnership with Tribeca forms part of a broader national program by the Sloan Foundation to stimulate leading artists in film, television and theater to create more realistic and compelling stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers in the popular imagination. 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 Sloan makes annual awards in film animation and a first feature after graduation. In addition to the Tribeca/Sloan Screenplay Development Program, the Foundation has initiated screenwriting workshops at Sundance and the Hamptons and also honored new feature films such as the forthcoming Dark Matter and Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain

About the Tribeca Film Institute

The Tribeca Film Institute creates innovative programs that draw on the unifying power of film to promote understanding, tolerance and global awareness.  Our commitment is to educate, entertain and inspire filmmakers and audiences alike, while strengthening the artistic and economic fabric of New York City and its Lower Manhattan community.
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