I’m no psychic. But the minute I saw Andrew Bujalski’s sweet/geeky/playful/pointyheaded drama Computer Chess, I knew it would win the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, a cool-brainiac award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation that comes with a $20,000 huzzah for an independent film project that, in the words of the foundation press release, explores “science and technology themes or that depict scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in engaging and innovative ways.” I knew Computer Chess would win, first because most other films at Sundance this year explore relationships and sexytime themes rather than stories featuring scientists. And second because, in the guise of messing around with the limitations of PortaPak video aesthetics and technology circa 1980, Bujalski (the mumblecore pioneer who made Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation, and Beeswax) gets at something deep and true about the nature of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and the young nerds of every generation who go on to invent the stuff that changes the lives of all the rest of us.
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