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Sundance: ‘Love Me’ Filmmakers Sam and Andy Zuchero Win Jury Prize for Science-In-Film Initiative

Sundance is showing some love to Love Me filmmakers Sam and Andy Zuchero.

The husband and wife filmmaking team were honored on Monday with the juried film prize from the Sundance Institute and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s joint Science-In-Film initiative during a special reception in Park City during the film festival.

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The Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize comes with a $25,000 cash award from the foundation and is selected by a jury of film and science professionals. Per the organization, it’s “presented to an outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a major character.”

Sitting on this year’s jury were Dr. Mandë Holford, Dr. Nia Imara, Matt Johnson, Theresa Park and Courtney Stephens. They cited the Kristen Stewart and Steven Yeun-starrer “for its ambitious and formally inventive portrayal of a post-human Earth in which two machine-learning ‘life forms’ search for the cure to loneliness in the digital rubble of civilization, and for its original direction and engaging performances.”

The Zucheros directed from their own script, which is described briefly like this: Long after humanity’s extinction, a buoy and a satellite meet online and fall in love. Kevin Rowe, Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Shivani Rawat and Julie Goldstein produced the film.

Also announced today were the recipients of three artist grants aimed at supporting projects currently in development. Winning creatives included writer Emily Everhard who will receive a $17,000 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for Tektite through the Sundance Institute and Sloan Episodic Fellowship; co-writers and co-directors Sara Crow and David Rafailedes who will receive a $17,000 cash award for their project Satoshi through the Sundance Institute and Sloan Development Fellowship; and writer-director Lizzi Oyebode who will receive a $25,000 cash award for Inverses through the Sundance Institute and Sloan Commissioning Grant.

Prior to the reception, held at Handle on Heber Avenue, the winners participated in a Sloan Foundation–sponsored Beyond Film event titled The Big Conversation: Screen of Consciousness. Moderated by neuroscientist and clinical psychologist Dr. Heather Berlin, the panel featured the Zucheros and touched on cinema’s portrayals of artificial intelligence.

“The connection between art and science, while indelible, is also ever-changing. Each year, thanks to our long-standing partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, we are able to imagine with greater nuance how science can bolster art, and vice versa,” said Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente.

Added Doron Weber, vp and program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: “We are delighted to honor Sam and Andy Zuchero’s Love Me, an original and wildly imaginative film about the nature of human identity and our connection to each other in a post-human world mediated through artificial intelligence. In a year when Chris Nolan’s great-man-of-science biopic, Oppenheimer, based on the Sloan book American Prometheus, broke box office records and garnered acclaim, we are especially pleased to award three screenwriting fellowships to four outstanding writers who dramatize the unique obstacles and underappreciated contributions of exceptional women in science and technology.”

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