EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT Wins Sloan Science-in-Cinema Award at Sundance

The Colombian film Embrace of the Serpent / El abrazo de la serpiente directed by Ciro Guerra (pictured left with Cristina Gallego and Doron Weber) was announced as the winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Science-in Film-Prize with a cash prize of $20,000 at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Institute announced today awards for the most promising new independent films about science and technology, including the Colombian film as recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize.

Doron Weber, Vice President, Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation said, “We are delighted to recognize Ciro Guerra's poetic work Embrace of the Serpent as the winner of the 2016 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. This beautiful film depicts the scientist as unconventional explorer and an encounter between two cultures that leads to a deeper understanding of nature and new scientific knowledge, research which continues to this day. In a year with such fine Oscar-nominated films as The Martian, Steve Jobs and Joy, Embrace of the Serpent shows how the boldest and most gifted filmmakers continue to find innovative ways of telling stories with scientific themes and characters.”

Embrace of the Serpent (pictured right) a blistering, poetic story is inspired by the original journals of scientists Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes, who meet lone survivor Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman. Over 40 years, they develop a friendship while traveling through the Colombian Amazon in search of the sacred, psychedelic yakruna plant.

The prize was selected by a jury of film and science professionals: theater, film, and television actor Kerry Bishé; writer, director and producer, Mike Cahill; filmmaker, Shane Carruth; professor at University of Southern California, Clifford Johnson; and professor of genetics at Harvard, director of space genetics, and director of the Personal Genetics Education Project, Ting Wu.

The jury presented the award to the film for "its original and provocative portrait of a scientist and a scientific journey into the unknown, and for its unconventional depiction of how different cultures seek to understand nature."

The Sundance Film Festival runs through Sunday, January 31 at Park City, Utah.