Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series is the first Academy Award-Qualifying Festival for short narratives devoted to showcasing films produced, directed and written by women of color. 

Established in 1997 by African Voices magazine and the LIU Media Arts Department, Reel Sisters brings together film lovers and industry professionals from across the U.S. and globe to celebrate the contributions women of color make to the film industry. Held every October in Brooklyn, NY, the festival has screened over 5,000 films by women of African, Caribbean, Latina, Asian, Indian and Native American descent. 

Recognized by Film Daily as one of the top 10 best women centered film festivals, Reel Sisters offers awards in categories including Best Director, Best Short Film, Best Documentary, and Best Experimental Film. Since its inception, Reel Sisters has awarded more than $25,000 in cash scholarships to emerging filmmakers. 

Reel Sisters is a top tier festival for women of color filmmakers seeking distribution and networking opportunities in a fun and nurturing environment. BET/Centric, Black Public Media and Third World Newsreel have all distributed films from Reel Sisters. The festival also provides workshops and panels on film financing, micro-budget filmmaking, screenwriting, and editing. 

In addition to championing women of color filmmakers, Reel Sisters honors women of color in the industry with the Hattie McDaniel Pioneer Award and the Trailblazer Award. Past honorees include: Issa Rae, Jessica Williams, Julie Dash, Cathy Hughes, JT Takagi, Neema Barnette, Naturi Naughton, Vinie Burrows, Tamara Tunie, Shola Lynch, Ebony Jo-Ann and power couple Tim and Daphne Reid.

“Reel Sisters is one of the few outlets that film lovers have to experience intellectually stimulating and empowering films by women from around the world,” says Reel Sisters founder and festival director Carolyn A. Butts. “We’re here to reclaim our stories and launch a national dialogue about issues affecting our community and families.”