Art and Experience: Tribeca Film Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced on Thursday the four winners of this year’s TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, which will be awarded grants of $150,000 with mentorship.
The Fund, which champions fiction films and series that feature themes of science, math and technology, has selected “Mabel,” “The Mushroomers,” “Neon Tilapia” and “Tadpole” — all of which are currently in development.
“We’re excited to announce this group of projects which feature glowing genetically modified fish, a mycologist, and a high school student whose best friend is an intelligent potted plant,” Amy Hobby, executive director at Tribeca Film Institute said in a statement. “All four of these projects are in the development phase, and the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund grant will give these teams the boost they need to propel their projects forward.”
The four films delve into our mysterious and curious natural world, with “Mabel,” directed by Nicholas Ma, telling the story of an unlikely friendship between an “awkward kid” and a potted plant, focusing on the fascination behind “plant intelligence.”
Another winning film, “The Mushroomers,” follows a widowed mycologist who uses super fungi to heal a contaminated forest.
Dramedy “Neon Tilapia” travels to rural Kenya as a fisherman and his granddaughter battle a water-weed that takes over a lake using “genetically modified fish.”
“Tadpole” is a satire about a closeted trans high school student who investigates “sex-swapping tadpoles” and stirs up Evangelical controversy in the local community.
TFI’s partner the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a non-profit philanthropy drafting grants for research and education in science, technology and economics, hailed the winning films’ diverse filmmakers as they tell unique and captivating stories.
“We’re thrilled to partner with TFI to support these outstanding and diverse filmmakers through the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, part of our nationwide film program,” said Doron Weber, VP and program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “These four original scripts — on topics from the potential impact of genetically modified animals to the controversial science of plant intelligence — depict the limitless potential of scientific and technological stories to create compelling characters, vivid settings, and moving narratives.”