Alexis Gambis is celebrating a monarch moment…
The French Venezuelan filmmaker and biologist’s US-Mexico film Hijo de Monarcas has won the 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Prize for film.
Gambis’ film, which stars Tenoch Huerta, Paulina Gaitan and William Mapother centers on a Mexican scientist (Huerta) living in New York, who returns to his hometown, nestled in the majestic butterfly forests of Michoacán. The journey forces him to confront past traumas and reflect on his hybrid identity, sparking a personal metamorphosis.
The annual award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation recognizes a film screening at the Sundance Film Festival that focuses on science or technology or portrays a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a major character.
Hijo de Monarcas is directed and written by Gambis and features a cast that includes Alexia Rasmussen, Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez and Noé Hernández.
Hijo de Monarcas, which was filmed in New York and Mexico in both English and Spanish, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 29, with a second screening on January 31.
“As we celebrate the wonderful news for Son of Monarchs, I just wanted to take a minute to point at this injustice and call to action to save the endangered monarch butterfly,” posted Gambis on Facebook, referring to his movie’s selection for Sundance, before the award was announced. He highlights the risks and challenges now facing the butterflies in light of reported huge population declines in the past few years. “The monarch butterfly is threatened with extinction but will not come under federal protection because other species are a higher priority, federal officials announced Tuesday,” he added citing a New York Times article.
Gambis’ filmmaking mixes documentary and fiction, often honoring animal perspective. His artistic craft and scientific background led him to launch various projects like the Imagine Science Film Festival in 2008 and the science-focused streaming platform and online magazine Labocine. Eight years later, he directed his first narrative feature, The Fly Room, a biographical drama that also deals with science, in this case genetics.
The Alfred P. Sloan Prize has been handed out at the Sundance Film Festival since 2003. The winner receives a $20,000 cash award.