Film Independent

Fractal World


Sloan Grant Won: 
2017, Tuition Award, American Film Institute

Project Type: Feature
Genre: Drama, Biopic
Length: 110 pages
Field of Science: Fractals, Zipf-Mandelbrot Law of Statistical Distribution
Stage: Development


The true story of renegade mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, who created fractal geometry and also used his family’s experience running from the Nazis during World War II to critique the well-accepted but ever riskier financial practices that led to the 2008 Recession.


We open with the 2008 Recession. Flashback to 1930’s Warsaw: young Jewish BENOIT MANDELBROT has a run-in with an SS officer. The Mandelbrot family hides from the Nazis in France, remaining safe because of FATHER and MOTHER’s risk analysis. Benoit develops as a mathematician under his Uncle, SZOLEM, and moves to America to study at Caltech.

In 1958, Benoit joins IBM’s research unit. He creates fractal geometry to describe measurements that can be replicated at various scales and have been oversimplified by traditional geometry.

In 1987, Mandelbrot moves to Yale and applies fractals to financial markets, arguing that models that don’t incorporate enough risk are irresponsible. He is disparaged by Wall Street, but is vindicated when the markets crash in the recession of 2008.


Marina is an AFI Screenwriting Fellow. She has previously worked at Fox in International Film Production and has also done audience research. She has a B.A. from UC-Berkeley in City Planning, but got into screenwriting because she’s a propagandist at heart. She first heard about fractal geometry from her middle school math teacher in St. Louis, Mr. Sturm.