DARK MATTER, inspired by real events, delves into the world of a brilliant Chinese astrology student whose dreams are challenged when he arrives in the U.S. to pursue his Ph.D.

DARK MATTER, inspired by real events, delves into the world of a brilliant Chinese astrology student whose dreams are challenged when he arrives in the U.S. to pursue his Ph.D.


Park City, UT—The 2007 Sundance Film Festival is pleased to announce that DARK MATTER, directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and written by Billy Shebar, is the recipient of this year’s Alfred P. Sloan Prize. The Prize, made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to the Sundance Institute’s Science-in-Film Initiative, carries a $20,000 cash award to the writer/director of an outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character. The Prize will be presented at the Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony on Saturday, January 27.

DARK MATTER, inspired by real events, delves into the world of a brilliant Chinese astrology student whose dreams are challenged when he arrives in the U.S. to pursue his Ph.D. The film, which screened in this year’s Spectrum section, was recognized for its evocative portrayal of the scientific passions, career politics, and cultural conflicts in an astrophysics research laboratory; and for its impressive achievement in filmmaking, including note-worthy performances by its main actors Liu Ye, Aidan Quinn and Meryl Streep.

The Alfred P. Sloan Prize is a major component of the Sundance Science-in-Film Initiative, which is made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Now in its fifth year, the Initiative supports the development and exhibition of new independent film projects that explore science and technology themes or that depict scientists, engineers and mathematicians in engaging and innovative ways. In addition to the Prize, the Initiative presents a panel discussion at the Festival that brings together scientists and filmmakers to explore compelling, contemporary issues regarding science in film; and, in the Sundance Feature Film Program, the Initiative supports the Sloan Commissioning Fund, which provides resources for Initiative projects early in the development phase; and the Sloan Fellowship, which develops eligible projects at the Sundance Feature Film Labs towards production. This Initiative blends the Sloan Foundation’s goal of enhancing public understanding of science and technology with Sundance Institute’s mission to foster independent voices and compelling storytelling in film.

The winning film was selected by a committee of film and science professionals based on the quality of the film’s presentation of science and technology themes and/or characters. This year’s Alfred P. Sloan selection committee includes: John Underkoffler, MIT Media Lab Alumnus, Science Consultant on MINORITY REPORT, THE HULK, and AEON FLUX, and founder of Oblong Industries; Darren Aronofsky, writer and director of p, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, and THE FOUNTAIN; Ann Druyan, writer/producer/co-creator of CONTACT, co-writer of the "Cosmos" television series, and creative director for NASA's Voyager interstellar message system; Howard Suber, longtime faculty member at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, one of the founders of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and the author of The Power of Film; and Dr. Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, and author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos.

This effort at Sundance is part of a broader national program by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to stimulate leading artists in film, television, and theater; to create more authentic and compelling stories about science and technology; and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in the popular imagination. Over the past nine years, the Foundation has partnered with some of the top film schools in the country – including AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, and USC – and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production and an annual first-feature award for alumni. The Foundation has also started an annual Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival and initiated new screenwriting workshops at the Hamptons and TriBeca Film Festival. In addition, it continues to work with leading writer-producers and major studios to create more films, TV shows and TV movies featuring scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

The New York-based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants in science, technology, and economic performance. The Foundation’s program in public understanding of science, directed by Program Director Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, and theatre, including not only Proof, Copenhagen, and Alan Alda’s QED, but dozens of new plays from the Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Manhattan Theater Club, including the Broadway-bound play, The Secret Order.

2007 Sundance Film Festival Sponsors
The 2007 Sundance Film Festival sponsors help sustain Sundance Institute's year-round programs to support independent artists, inspire risk-taking and encourage diversity in the arts. This year's Festival Sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors—Entertainment Weekly, Volkswagen of America, Inc., HP, Adobe Systems Incorporated, and AOL; Leadership Sponsors—American Express, Delta Air Lines, and DIRECTV; Sustaining Sponsors—ABSOLUT®, Aquafina, Blockbuster Inc., CESAR® Canine Cuisine, KRUPS, L’Oreal Paris, The New York Times, Ray-Ban, Sony Electronics, Inc., Stella Artois®, Turning Leaf Vineyards, and the Utah Film Commission.

Sundance Film Festival
The Sundance Film Festival is the premier showcase for U.S. and international independent film. Held each January in Park City, Sundance Resort, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, Utah, the Festival is a core program of the Sundance Institute, a nonprofit cultural organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981. Presenting 125 dramatic and documentary feature-length films in nine distinct categories and over 70 short films each year, the Sundance Film Festival has introduced American audiences to some of the most innovative films of the past two decades. The official website of the Sundance Film Festival, shares the Festival experience beyond the streets of Park City with a global audience through the streaming of short films, filmmaker interviews, and current news and box office information.

Sundance Institute
Dedicated year-round to the development of artists of independent vision and to the exhibition of their new work, Sundance Institute celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2006. Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, the Institute has grown into an internationally recognized resource for thousands of independent artists through its Film Festival and artistic development programs for filmmakers, screenwriters, composers, playwrights and theatre artists. The original values of independence, creative risk-taking, and discovery continue to define and guide the work of Sundance Institute, both with U.S. artists and, increasingly, with artists from other regions of the world.

# # #