Meet the winners of SFFILM’s 2019 Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships

Nov 25, 2019 · 3 min read

Some exciting news for those who love great films about science and technology: SFFILM and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have selected the recipients of the 2019 Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships! Supporting the development of narrative feature screenplays that explore scientific or technological themes and characters, Sloan Fellowships are awarded once a year. Writer/directors Gina Hackett (A Bridge Between Us) and Josalynn Smith (Something in the Water) will each receive a $35,000 cash grant and a two-month residency at SFFILM’s FilmHouse residency space.

Fellows will gain free office space alongside access to weekly consulting services and professional development opportunities. SFFILM will connect each fellow to a science advisor with expertise in the scientific or technological subjects at the center of their screenplays, as well as leaders in the Bay Area’s science and technology communities. In addition to the residency and grant, SFFILM’s artist development team will facilitate industry introductions to producers and casting, financing, and creative advisors — investing in fellows from early script development stages through to release with the goal to further professional development and career sustainability.

Previous recipients of the Sloan Science in Cinema Fellowship include Michael Almereyda, to develop his screenplay about Nikola Tesla; Darcy Brislin and Dyana Winkler, to illuminate the lesser-known aspects of the life of Alexander Graham Bell; Mark Eaton and Ron Najor, who are exploring the darkest corners of the dark web; So Young Shelly Yo, telling the story of Yi So Yeon, South Korea’s first astronaut; and Erica Liu, who is developing a feature about a young mycologist attempting to heal a contaminated old-growth forest. These newest fellows are in good company!

A Bridge Between Us
Gina Hackett, writer/director
When the chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge is paralyzed in the early stages of its Victorian-era construction, his high-society wife Emily reluctantly steps up to act as his intermediary, courting jealousy and hostility as she blossoms into an engineer in her own right. Based on a true story, A Bridge Between Us tracks the building of a bridge and the collapse of a marriage.

Gina Hackett is a writer, director, and journalist based in New York. A Harvard alumna hailing from the Midwest, she is currently pursuing an MFA in Film at Columbia University and tells stories about women who make trouble. In 2019, she received the Katharina Otto-Bernstein Production Grant for her thesis film Delicate Prey, which she shot on 16mm film and is currently in post-production. Her most recent film, Amateur Night, had its world premiere at the 2019 New Orleans Film Festival and is currently on the festival circuit.

Something in the Water
Josalynn Smith, writer/director
Leah, a teen girl living in St. Louis City, feels isolated and ignored after moving to a new neighborhood and being bused to a new school in an overwhelmingly white county. When Leah begins to observe behavioral changes in her little brother, through her research and experimentation she soon discovers that lead is the culprit. Now tasked with finding the source of the contamination and advocating for a systemic overhaul, a girl, once ignored, begins to find her voice.

Josalynn Smith is a Black American filmmaker based in New York. A recent graduate of Columbia University’s Film MFA program, her thesis short, also titled Something in the Water, received the Sloan Foundation’s Production Grant. Additionally, Smith is the recipient of the Jesse Thompkins III Screenwriting Award from Columbia. Her shorts and a feature documentary on which she served as a narrator and videographer have screened at St. Louis International Film Festival, Queer Fest St. Louis, Twin Cities Black Film Festival, and Williamsburg International Film Festival.

For more information about the SFFILM Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship and other SFFILM Makers artist development programs, visit

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Presenter of the SFFILM Festival, SFFILM is a year-round nonprofit organization delivering screenings & events to 100,000+ film lovers annually.

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