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‘Marjorie Prime’ wins Sundance’s Alfred P. Sloan Prize

First Published      Last Updated Jan 30 2017 09:25 am

The futuristic love story "Marjorie Prime" is the winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, it was announced Tuesday.

The annual award, given by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, goes to a film at the festival that depicts science or technology, or features a scientist, researcher or mathematician as a major character. The honor comes with a $20,000 cash prize.

The movie, written and directed by Michael Almereyda ("Experimenter"), is set in a near future where an 86-year-old woman (Lois Smith) has a handsome artificial companion (Jon Hamm), who looks like her late husband, programmed to feed her life story back to her. The movie also stars Geena Davis and Tim Robbins.

Doron Weber, vice president for programs at the Sloan Foundation, said Almereyda "explores the emotional landscape of artificial intelligence and dramatizes the emerging impact of intelligent machines on our most intimate human relationships."

Sundance Institute and the Sloan Foundation also gave out grants to filmmakers developing projects.

The Sundance Institute | Sloan Commissioning Grant, worth $12,500, went to writer Jamie Dawson and producer Howard Gentler, who are developing an as-yet-untitled documentary about the World Health Organization's ambitious plan in 1965 to eradicate smallpox around the world.

The Sundance Institute | Sloan Lab Fellowship, worth $15,000, is going to writers Darcy Brislin and Dyana Winkler for their script "Bell," which focuses on the dawn of the telephone and a dark age for deaf people with the eradication of sign language and the spread of eugenics — and how Alexander Graham Bell was at the center of both. "Bell" was last year's winner of the commissioning grant.

The Sundance Institute | Sloan Episodic Storytelling Grant, worth $12,500, is going to writer Adam Benic, who is developing a one-hour TV drama series called "Levittown," focusing on builder William Levitt, who tried to fill the demand for housing after World War II by creating the first mass-produced suburb in Levittown, Long Island, New York.