[New York, NY April 10, 2006] The Tribeca Film Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation today announced that Kenneth Lonergan, Dan Zeff and Nicole Perlman have been selected to participate in the highly competitive Tribeca/Sloan Screenplay Development Program, a screenwriting program launched in early 2002 to develop scripts with scientific and technological themes and/or characters. Renowned scientists in the fields appropriate to each project will consult with the writers about the scientific content of the scripts. During the Festival, the three chosen projects will be showcased through scene readings by actors including Matthew Broderick, Judd Hirsch, and J. Smith-Cameron.
Award-winning writer/director Lonergan will adapt The Starry Messenger for the screen as part of the Tribeca/Sloan Program. The play is being produced by Roger Berlind, Debra Black, Carole Shorenstein Hays, Kim Parker, Daryl Roth, and Scott Rudin and is scheduled to debut on Broadway in April of 2007.
Producer Andrew Bendel and director Dan Zeff of Project Mustard and Nicole Perlman of Challenger will develop their screenplays with consultation from prominent industry professionals in addition to their science advisors as the projects are shepherded toward production by the Tribeca/Sloan team.
The Starry Messenger (Lonergan) is about a 43-year-old astronomy teacher who works at a non-research university in New York and teaches night classes to adults at the Hayden Planetarium, in the Fall of 1995. Facing the imminent demolition of the Planetarium, he finds himself drowning in the mundane routines and disappointments of everyday life. He is restless in his marriage and tired of his work. The story follows his efforts to expand the constraining foundations of his perfectly good life, his love affair with a young single mother, and his ambitions to break back into the mainstream of the highly competitive scientific community, from which he has gradually exiled himself over the years through small compromises and short-term financial considerations. With unflinching naturalism and sharp-edged humor, this play explores how it is possible to care more about losing your car keys than about the death toll in the newspaper, or the fact that we are living in a 12 billion year old universe that we have barely begun to understand.
Matthew Broderick, J. Smith-Cameron, John Gallagher Jr. and Stephanie Cannon will read excerpts from The Starry Messenger during a private invite only reading and panel on Monday May 1st at 37 Arts, 450 West 37th Street at 7:00 p.m. The reading will be followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Emmy and Dupont award-winning journalist John Hockenberry, examining the effect the study of the cosmos has had on human culture and consciousness. Panelists include writer/director Lonergan and Dr. David Pankenier, a professor at Lehigh University and member of INSAP, a forum through which artists, historians, philosophers, and scientists discuss the diversity of astronomical inspiration.
Project Mustard (Zeff) is the comic imagining of what would have happened if the British entered into the 1960s race between Russian and the USA for the moon. Inspired by a British prototype vehicle that foreshadowed the current space shuttle design, Project Mustard harkens back to the legendary post-war British comedies. Eccentric characters, self-deprecating humor and innocent romance, along with themes of rocket science, fuel this unusual comedy.
In Challenger, Director Nicole Perlman examines the role that Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman played in the investigation into the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Motivated by his uneasy conscience due to his participation in the Manhattan Project, Feynman is determined to ensure that there will be no institutional cover-up of the negligence that led to the tragedy. Challenger uses the investigation as an opportunity to humanize the famously eccentric physicist.
Judd Hirsch, as Feynman, and other actors will read selected scenes from both screenplays, followed by a brunch and roundtable with scientists, astronauts, historians, and filmmakers at the Tribeca Grand Hotel screening room on Friday May 5th starting at 11 A.M. Renowned physicist Dr. Robert Frosch, head of NASA during the development and flight of the first space shuttle and later a Vice President in charge of Research Laboratories for General Motors, will join the roundtable discussion, which will be moderated by award-winning journalist and author Ira Flatow, who hosts National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation: Science Friday.
“We are thrilled this year to have Kenny Lonergan participate in our science themed script development program as well as the two new talented voices of Dan Zeff and Nicole Perlman,” said Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Institute. “I hope that our important partnership with the Sloan Foundation and the impressive slate of panels, events, and films this year, helps provide new audiences with a unique perspective into films from the science genre.”
“We are delighted to continue our historic partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute in showcasing science-themed films, panels and readings and developing the most promising screenplays toward commercial production,” said Doron Weber, Sloan Program Director. “When you add this year’s impressive slate of filmmakers and science subjects to previous Tribeca/Sloan winners like Rosalind Franklin and DNA, Hedy Lamarr and frequency hopping, and Edwin Hubble and the expanding universe, you begin to see why science and technology offer filmmakers such great stories and wonderful, original characters.”
As in previous years, the Sloan Foundation will present a panel discussion at this year’s festival. This year, the Sloan Foundation presents “The Biology of King Kong,” a discussion about Peter Jackson’s special-effects extravaganza. World renowned animal behaviorist Roger Fouts (Co-Director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute), Dr. Amy Vedder (Vice President, Wildlife Conservation Society and Director), and ABC News correspondent and NPR contributor Robert Krulwich will discuss creating authentic creatures for the big screen with 2006 Academy Award winner Joe Letteri (Special Effects, King Kong ). The panel will take place Saturday, May 6 at 1:00 p.m. in the Tribeca Performing Arts Center.
The two Sloan Foundation co-presented World premieres include Kettle of Fish, directed and written by Claudia Adams and starring Matthew Modine and Gina Gershon, and the student short Chicxulub, directed by Malona P. Voigt.
In Kettle of Fish, a lifelong bachelor (Modine) confronts his intimacy issues when subletting his apartment to a fetching biologist (Gershon). His heartsick fish and wise best buddy are on hand to provide perspective in this charming romantic feature. The film premieres on Thursday, April 27th, 9:00 P.M. at Tribeca Performing Arts Center.
Chickxulub will be appearing as part of the Something For Nothing shorts program and draws a parallel between two tragedies. Sixty-five million years ago, a meteor collided with Earth and erased 75 percent of the planet's living species. When Ted and Maureen Biehn receive a phone call that their daughter has been hit by a car, the two tragedies begin to intertwine, changing the family's life forever. The short premieres on April 27, 7:15 P.M. at AMC Loews 34th Street Theatre 14.
For tickets to readings (tickets are not available to “The Starry Messenger” reading), panel, and film screenings visit tribecafilmfestival.org or call 866.941.FEST (3378) to purchase Festival Passes and Tickets. Festival Passes and Packages are currently on sale online and by phone. This year, for the first time, Daytimer Passes are being sold.
Single tickets can be purchased online, by phone, or at the Tribeca Film Festival box office, located at 13-17 Laight Street (between Varick and Avenue of the Americas), Saturday, April 8-Sunday, May, 7.
In addition tickets will also be sold at dedicated Tribeca Film Festival windows at AMC Loews host venues: AMC Loews Lincoln Square 12 – Broadway at 68th Street, AMC Loews 34th Street 14 - West 34th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, and AMC Loews Village 7 – 3rd Avenue at East 11th Street beginning April 8th for American Express Card members and April 15th for all others through Saturday, April 22. During the event, festivalgoers will be able to buy tickets for all AMC Loews screenings at each AMC Loews venue. All other Festival screening and event tickets can be purchased online, by phone, and at the Festival Box Office.
About the Tribeca Film Institute
The Tribeca Film Institute creates innovative programs that draw on the unifying power of film to promote understanding, tolerance, and global awareness. The Institute is committed to educating, entertaining, and inspiring filmmakers and audiences alike while strengthening the artistic and economic fabric of New York City and its Lower Manhattan community. For more information visit www.tribecafilminstitute.org.
About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The New York based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants in science, technology and the quality of American life. Sloan’s program in public understanding of science, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television and theater to reach a wide, non-specialized audience.
Sloan’s partnership with Tribeca forms part of a broader national program by the Sloan Foundation to stimulate leading artists in film, television and theater to create more realistic and compelling stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers in the popular imagination. Over the past ten years, Sloan has partnered with six of the top film schools in the country—AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA and USC—and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production. In addition Sloan makes annual awards in film animation and a first feature after graduation. The Foundation has also started annual Sloan Feature Film Prizes at the Hamptons International Film Festival, won this year by Su Rynard’s Kardia and at the Sundance Film Festival, where Andrucha Waddington’s House of Sand took the prize this past January. In addition to the Tribeca/Sloan Screenplay Development Program, the Foundation has initiated screenwriting workshops at Sundance and the Hamptons.
About the Tribeca Film Festival
The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff as a response to the attacks on the World Trade Center. Conceived to foster the economic and cultural revitalization of Lower Manhattan through an annual celebration of film, music, and culture the Festival’s mission is to promote New York City as a major filmmaking center and help filmmakers reach the broadest possible audience.
The 2006 Festival, presented by American Express, will take place from April 25 – May 7, 2006. Reflecting the festival’s continued growth, it will expand this year to more neighborhoods throughout Manhattan and feature screenings, special events, concerts, a family street fair, and panel discussions. For more information, please visit www.tribecafilmfestival.org
As Founding Sponsor of the Tribeca Film Festival, American Express is committed to expanding the Festival and bringing it to new audiences in compelling ways. As part of a long-term partnership with the Festival, American Express celebrates filmmakers, facilitates storytelling and is dedicated to bringing energy and business to Lower Manhattan.
The Tribeca Film Festival is pleased to announce the return of their Signature Sponsors: Budweiser Select, General Motors, WNBC, Nokia, Apple, Aquafina, Delta Air Lines, The New York Times, Bloomberg, Vanity Fair, Empire State Development Corporation/I Love New York, Brookfield Properties, the Tribeca Grand Hotel, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Festival is also honored to welcome the following new sponsors to the Tribeca Film Festival: RR Donnelley, CA, AMC Loews Theatres, Festa Internazionale di Roma.
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