Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in Ammonite
Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in Ammonite

Ammonite, Francis Lee’s remarkable historical drama starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, is the 2020 recipient of the SFFILM Sloan Science in Cinema Prize, an award that celebrates the compelling depiction of scientific themes or characters in a narrative feature film. Presented through a partnership between SFFILM and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, this annual award carries a $25,000 cash prize and shines a light on special achievement in rendering the worlds of science and technology through the language of film with a screening event and conversation with the film’s creators and experts in the scientific fields being depicted.

SFFILM and the Sloan Foundation presented the award on Friday, December 18, at a live-streamed online event for SFFILM members and invited guests from the nationwide science, technology, and education communities. Following an online screening of Ammonite, writer/director Francis Lee, geologist Paddy Howe, and micropaleontologist Dr. Lisa White participated in an in-depth discussion of the science behind the story and its journey to the big screen.

“The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s remarkable dedication to promoting science in cinematic storytelling allows us to recognize one of this year’s most quietly powerful films in Ammonite,” said SFFILM Executive Director Anne Lai. “The unlikely romance of two women in a beautifully desolate landscape invites us into the rare world of fossil hunting in a way we haven’t seen before. It’s a complex portrayal of the dedication to science — not only as an avocation but as a lifelong pursuit and the ensuing complications of what peer recognition may or may not be — that brings such depth to Kate Winslet’s character. We are excited and honored to recognize Ammonite with the Sloan Science in Cinema Prize.”

“We are delighted to announce that this year’s Sloan Science in Cinema Prize at SFFILM goes to Francis Lee’s Ammonite,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Lee’s moving, fine-grained portrait of a brilliant, passionate woman in 19th century England brings to life the little-known scientist Mary Anning who, despite the challenges she faced as a woman in science, made trailblazing contributions to the field of paleontology and our understanding of the history of life on earth.”

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