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NYU Student Robert Cohen Wins Inaugural Sloan Screenwriting Prize

"Bystander" is inspired by the aftermath of the rape and murder of Queens resident Kitty Genovese in 1964.

NYU Tisch School of the Arts student Robert Cohen has been awarded the inaugural Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Student Grand Jury Prize for Screenwriting for his dramatic script Bystander.

The Tribeca Film Institute announced the $50,000 grant -- for an exceptional screenplay that focuses on science or scientists -- Thursday. Cohen will receive a $30,000 cash prize, plus $20,000 to be used in support of the project with year-round help from Tribeca.

Bystander is inspired by the aftermath of the infamous rape and murder of Queens resident Kitty Genovese in 1964, which involved a groundbreaking psychological study on the "Bystander Effect" of witnesses failing to intervene.

Cohen's screenplay was drawn from a collection of entries from AFI, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, NYU, UCLA and USC. The awards committee included Morgan FreemanEric Roth, HBO Films president Len AmatoDr. Darcy Kelley of Columbia University and 1986 Nobel Laureate Dr. Dudley Herschbach of Harvard University.

“We are delighted to establish this inaugural award honoring the year’s single most outstanding science screenplay from our film school partners,” said Doron Weber, vp of programs for the Sloan Foundation. "We see this as the next stage in our decade-plus commitment to influencing the next generation of filmmakers and expanding the types of stories and range of characters that can make for great films. With over 250 student film projects funded by Sloan, plus dozens more from our screenplay development partners, we have one of the richest pipelines of scripts anywhere—and I’ve read every one so I can attest to their remarkable quality. This year alone we have half a dozen projects that have been shot or are going into production and we hope that Robert Cohen’s Bystander, aided by TFI’s stellar experience and expertise—Tribeca has been an exceptional partner for Sloan—will soon join their ranks.”

Since 1997, the Sloan Foundation has given over $3 million in grants to film students around the country. Cohen will receive his award at a reception in New York March 3.