Get ready to know the name Robert Cohen because his screenplay has officially turned the heads of Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Eric Roth, Len Amato, President, HBO Films, Dr. Darcy Kelley, Columbia University, and Dr. Dudley Herschbach, 1986 Nobel Laureate, Harvard University for his screenplay Bystander.

The Tribeca Film Institute has announced today that of NYU Tisch School of the Arts student Cohen is the official recipient of the inaugural Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Student Grand Jury Prize for Screenwriting. The “best-of-the-best” screenplay was selected from the winning scripts at six leading film schools participating in Sloan’s decade-long National Film Program.

Cohen and his screenplay will be receiving a lovely prize for his efforts, $50,000. The annual grant is given out only to the BEST screenplay which has to “dramatize science and technology themes and/or that portray scientists, engineers, or mathematicians in prominent character roles.” Is it just me or that a very specific genre?

Cohen will receive a $30,000 cash prize, an additional $20,000 to be used in direct support of the project, and year-round support from TFI, including mentorship and guidance from scientific and film industry professionals, networking opportunities, and industry exposure. Sounds like he’s on his way to success. Want to know what we have to look forward to? A lot of heavy, hard to watch drama….

Bystander is about the rape and murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964 outside an apartment complex in Queens while 37 witnesses looked on. Though the attack lasted over 30 minutes, none of the witnesses called the police or intervened until she was already dead. In 1968, John Darley and Bibb Latané published a psychological study on the “Bystander Effect” explaining the inaction of the witnesses. It became one of the most conclusive and replicable effects in the field of psychology. Bystander is a fictional account of the aftermath of this attack, but the scientific research and theories it includes are historically and psychologically accurate.

Yikes! It’s definitely something we’ve all heard about (I thought he stabbed her as well?) but never thought we’d have to sit through on a big screen. Let’s just hope that Cohen is a director or chooses a director with some way of shooting this in an interesting and not just graphic way. Though the psychology of it is fascinating!

Find out more about the prize…

The Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize was created to recognize the very best student scre

enplay in the nation that uses science and technology themes or characters to tell an engaging and entertaining story. Since 1997, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has given over $3 million dollars in direct grants to film students throughout the country, including $1.5 million in prize money to student screenwriters and more than $1.5 million to student directors and producers. Established as part of Sloan’s increasing commitment to support science and technology films through to commercial production, the Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize will boost development of the winning project, and introduce

the work and its writer to the industry at large.

The award will be presented at a reception in New York on March 3, 2011.