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The intense psychological drama "The Stanford Prison Experiment" is the recipient of this year's Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, a $20,000 award honoring a movie at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival that depicts science or scientists.
Meanwhile, three screenplays received either a fellowship or commissioning grants from the Sundance Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, festival organizers announced.
Kyle Patrick Alvarez' "The Stanford Prison Experiment" chronicles a real-life attempt by a psychology professor (Billy Crudup) and his students to simulate conditions in prison, with students randomly assigned as guards or inmates. The cast includes Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Johnny Simmons, Michael Angarano, Thomas Mann and Olivia Thirlby.
The jury praised the film for its "unflinching portrayal of an ambitious though flawed social science experiment in the psychology of imprisonment, and for its wrenching depiction of the human capacity for evil."
The members of the jury are: Paula Apsell, executive producer of PBS's "Nova"; astrophysicist and writer Janna Levin; actress/screenwriter Brit Marling ("Another Earth," which won the Sloan Prize in 2011); screenwriter Jonathan Nolan ("The Dark Knight Rises"); and Adam Steltzner, fellow at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The screenplay for "Archive," written by Jonathan Minard (who will direct it) and Scott Rashap, will receive the Sundance Institute/Sloan Fellowship, which comes with a $15,000 cash award. The story is described thusly: "In the wake of a virtual affair lived entirely through email and gchat, two lovers face the intangibility and distance that characterized their relationship. A search for the physical traces of their connection prompts a journey to the data center which holds their intimate messages."
Two scripts were selected for the Sundance Institute/Sloan Commissioning Grants, each receiving a $12,500 cash award. They are:
• "Otzi," by Cutter Hodierne (who will direct) and John Hibey: "10,000 feet atop the Italian Alps, a perfectly mummified corpse is discovered by two hikers, revealing a 5,300 year old murder mystery that becomes a legend around the world. Based on cave paintings and forensic evidence, 'Otzi' follows the final days of this prehistoric man's life, as scientists try to solve the oldest murder mystery in the world."
• "Tyfus," by writer-director Jon Noble: "In a desperate attempt to protect their town from Nazi occupation, two Polish doctors secretly engineer a fake outbreak of Typhus, spreading the disease to force the German army out before they discover the truth behind the town's seemingly deadly epidemic."