Gina Hackett and Josalynn Smith Win 2019 Sloan Science in Cinema Fellowships
Gina Hackett and Josalynn Smith Win 2019 Sloan Science in Cinema Fellowships

From an open call for submissions, SFFILM and the Sloan Foundation have awarded the 2019 Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships to Gina Hackett to develop her screenplay A Bridge Between Us, and to Josalynn Smith for her project Something in the Water.

Produced in partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships are part of the organization’s efforts to support programs that cultivate and champion films exploring scientific or technological themes and characters. Managed under the auspices of SFFILM’s artist development program, SFFILM Makers, this program is designed to ensure that narrative feature films that tell compelling stories about the worlds of science and technology continue to be made and seen.

The committee noted in a statement: “Through the SFFILM Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship, we are excited to support two stellar filmmakers whose stories not only convey complex scientific narratives but embody strong and unwaveringly unique representations of female scientists tackling the most iconic engineering feats to the most localized epicenters of environmental justice. SFFILM is grateful to the Sloan Foundation for their continued and unparalleled leadership in this arena and for championing bold stories from our past and immediate present, all of which inform the future of the public understanding of science and technology.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with SFFILM in awarding the 2019 Sloan Science in Cinema Fillmmaker Fellowships to Gina Hackett for A Bridge Between Us and Josalynn Smith for Something in the Water, two gifted female filmmakers writing about the role of women and underrepresented groups in science,” said Doron Weber, Vice President & Program Director of the Sloan Foundation.


Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowships include a $35,000 cash grant and a two-month residency at FilmHouse, SFFILM’s suite of production offices for local and visiting independent filmmakers. SFFILM will connect each fellow to a science advisor with expertise in the scientific or technological subjects at the center of their screenplays, as well as leaders in the Bay Area’s science and technology communities.

A Bridge Between Us
Gina Hackett, writer/director

When the chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge is paralyzed in the early stages of its Victorian-era construction, his high-society wife Emily reluctantly steps up to act as his intermediary, courting jealousy and hostility as she blossoms into an engineer in her own right. Based on a true story, A Bridge Between Us tracks the building of a bridge and the collapse of a marriage.

Gina Hackett is a writer, director, and journalist based in New York. A Harvard alumna hailing from the Midwest, she is currently pursuing an MFA in Film at Columbia University and tells stories about women who make trouble. In 2019, she received the Katharina Otto-Bernstein Production Grant for her thesis film Delicate Prey, which she shot on 16mm film and is currently in post-production. Her most recent film, Amateur Night, had its world premiere at the 2019 New Orleans Film Festival and is currently on the festival circuit.

Something in the Water
Josalynn Smith, writer/director

Leah, a teen girl living in St. Louis City, feels isolated and ignored after moving to a new neighborhood and being bused to a new school in an overwhelmingly white county. When Leah begins to observe behavioral changes in her little brother, through her research and experimentation she soon discovers that lead is the culprit. Now tasked with finding the source of the contamination and advocating for a systemic overhaul, a girl, once ignored, begins to find her voice.

Josalynn Smith is a Black American filmmaker based in New York. A recent graduate of Columbia University’s Film MFA program, her thesis short, also titled Something in the Water, received the Sloan Foundation’s Production Grant. Additionally, Smith is the recipient of the Jesse Thompkins III Screenwriting Award from Columbia. Her shorts and a feature documentary on which she served as a narrator and videographer have screened at St. Louis International Film Festival, Queer Fest St. Louis, Twin Cities Black Film Festival, and Williamsburg International Film Festival.

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