Science Class

Alex Rivera

This year the Alfred P. Sloan award, which is bestowed on “a feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character,” went this year to Alex Rivera’s SLEEP DEALER. The jury – which included filmmaker Michael Polish, technology writer Evan I. Schwartz [], Benedict Schwegler (chief scientist of Walt Disney Imagineering), John Underkoffler (Oblong Industries), and Alan Alda –– recognized the film “for its visionary and humane tale of a young man grappling with a technological future in which neural implants, telerobotics and ubiquitous computing serve a global economy rife with fundamental challenges and opportunities, and for its powerful and original storytelling and direction.”


The Award was created in 2003 with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation [] “to create more authentic and compelling stories about science and technology; and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in the popular imagination.” (In case you were wondering, Alfred P. Sloan [] was an engineer who from 1923 to 1956 served as president and then chairman of the board of General Motors.) In previous years, the Award has gone to such films as PRIMER [], GRIZZLY MAN [] and DARK MATTER []. SLEEP DEALER is a futuristic fable in which the labor of Mexican laborers is transmitted across the border in cyber factory. As such, it is a touch ironic that SLEEP DEALER, a sci-fi adventure that focuses on the abuse of labor should received an award with the name of corporate leader who actively opposed organized labor.


Peter Bowen