Meet the winners of the 2021 SFFILM Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund

L to R: Christopher Au, writer; Jonathan Sethna, writer

Two screenwriters, Christopher Au and Jonathan Sethna, have been selected to receive funding through SFFILM’s Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund, which is part of a suite of screenwriting programs that cultivate narrative feature films exploring scientific or technological themes and characters. This artist support program was developed in partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the nonprofit dedicated to bridging the cultures of science and the humanities, and focuses on the adaptation of important scientific and technological discoveries to the big screen.

The Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund supports the screen adaptation of specific scientific articles and discoveries, catalogued in the Sloan Stories of Science Sourcebook as inspiration for filmmakers. These winners each receive a $10,000 cash grant and access to a two-day filmmaker retreat designed to provide guidance and mentorship from scientists, science and tech journalists, and film industry professionals to help them shape their storytelling vision; and from producers and legal advisors to help navigate adapting true stories to the screen.

Christopher Au, writer

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a scrappy group of university research scientists take on skeptics, conservative politics, and the World Health Organization to uncover a startling truth about the nature of coronavirus transmission.

Christopher Au wrote, directed and produced the comedy series Bulge Bracket on Amazon Prime, which was featured on the front page of Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance, and was selected for the Gotham Week Project Market (formerly IFP) and SeriesFest, among others. His feature film producing credits include the neo-noir mystery Drive All Night, which debuted at Cinequest in 2021. As a commercial producer and director, Au won an Emmy for his work with Fox Sports Net. He was previously Head of Business Development for the iBrands group at AOL (now Verizon Media), overseeing strategic partnerships for its portfolio of media brands including TechCrunch, Engadget, Autoblog, Moviefone, MAKERS and others. He serves on the Board of Directors at the Center for Asian American Media, and holds film and business degrees from Yale and NYU respectively.

Jonathan Sethna, writer

Fishes & Phages
When an antibiotic resistant Vibrio Bacteria outbreak threatens to wipe out local fish and oyster farms, the conservative fisherfolk of Greenport are forced to call in Dr. Manning Cesario, a flamboyant bacteriophage expert from the Philippines, for help. Culture clashes and science skepticism are tackled head on as Manning and his local liaison Jaxi, the town pariah, deal with more than just the marine contagion.

Jonathan Sethna writes contemporary narratives about the promise and peril of cutting-edge technologies and radical ideas. He lives in New York, but is proudly inspired, informed, and guided by the values and spirit of the Bay Area and the Jedi Order.

Presenter of the SFFILM Festival, SFFILM is a year-round nonprofit organization delivering screenings & events to 100,000+ film lovers annually.