CAROLYN A. BUTTS, FOUNDER/FESTIVAL DIRECTOR
Carolyn A. Butts is the publisher/founder of African Voices, a leading non-profit arts magazine devoted to presenting fine art and literature by artists of color. Founded in 1992, African Voices will celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2017. She has served as an assistant press secretary to former New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall and a press aide to former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger. A former New York Post reporter, Carolyn was featured in Ms. Magazine’s October/November 2001 “Women to Watch” column for her outstanding achievement.
She has worked on many projects to increase the visibility of African-American artists in literature, film and art. In 1996, Carolyn co-produced a short film “Underground Voices” with Reg E. Gaines, the Tony-nominated writer of “Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk.” Footage from “Underground Voices” aired on the PBS special “I’ll Make Me A World.” She is also working on her first feature length documentary Imhotep Gary Byrd: The Drum Master, a portrait celebrating the pioneering radio show host/producer of “The Global Black Experience.” An unsung heroine, Carolyn is the founder the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series (10 women centered festivals.), the first Academy Qualifying Film Festival devoted to women of color in the film industry. In 2018, Reel Sisters will kick off in Harlem on October 6, 2018 at the Miller Theatre, Columbia University and wrap up in Brooklyn on October 20-21 at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Reel Sisters was recently listed in Film Daily’s top
JULIA O’FARROW, FILM FESTIVAL CURATOR 2018
Julia O’Farrow is an independent producer, director, editor and educator. Her award-winning documentary Beyond the Bars No Extended Embraces has screened at numerous festivals and cable television and is part of the video collection at the Langston Hughes Public Library, Her long-running award-winning series Jaygeeoh Presents has showcased an impressive variety of engaging people, well-known artists, and performers. Julia herself has appeared in numerous television interviews including BBC News Talking Pictures and CUNY TV City Cinemateque.
As an educator, she currently teaches communication and film courses at the College of New Rochelle, JCOC campus; and media production workshops as a freelance instructor at BRIC ARTS Media.
A founding member of the Black Documentary Collective, Julia was the sole curator and host of a monthly screening of member’s films for many years.
IMAN CHILDS, Social Media Team Member
Iman Childs is a filmmaker and media blogger with a passion for socially conscious films and television shows that work to connect cultures. A New York native, Iman is an alumna of Northwestern University, where she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s in Film. Her senior thesis film, In Plain Sight, was screened at three film festivals in New York City. As a 2014-2015 Fulbright research grantee, Iman filmed a documentary in Rome, Italy concerning the lives of African immigrants and their integration into Italian society. The film, More than Sbarchi: The African Diaspora in Italy, is currently in post-production.
LISA DURDEN, Film Awards Director
Newark NJ native, Lisa Durden, is a brilliantly outspoken, sought-after, television personality and subject matter expert in the areas of pop-culture, politics and social issues. Lisa’s voice is her activism, which led to a successful career behind the camera as an award-winning director/producer in non-fiction television and film. In 2005, Ms. Durden launched, Lisa Durden Unlimited Productions, a New Jersey based multi-media company that specializes in creating content across various platforms for television, film, the web and live audiences. The organization’s mission is to create quality programming and to tell compelling stories with big entertaining characters! Recent projects include: Curator of the Annual Reel Sister of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series and member of the Reel Sisters Awards committee. Past honorees include Cathy Hughes owner of TV One, actress Naturi Naughton, star of the hit STARZ series POWER; Conceived & Produced the award-winning PBSMaya Angelou Film’s successful Live Twitter Chat which garnered 8 million impressions.
She is the former broadcast manager with the National Black Programing Consortium (NBPC), an organization that supports diverse voices by developing, producing and distributing innovative media about the Black experience and by investing in visionary content makers. She is Co-Producer of the provocative, feature film TITLE VII; Producer of ImageNation’s annual, star studded, Revolution Awards. Past honorees include director Ava DuVernay, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, #BlackLivesMatter & actor Hill Harper and Playright/Actor Danai Gurira. She also served as Associate Producer of the award winning PBS’ feature documentary, Soul Food Junkies directed by Byron Hurt; Associate Producer of the critically acclaimed, Sundance Channel’s, 5 part docu-series, Brick City 1 (Director: Mark Levin & Executive Producer: Forest Whitaker); Associate Producer of the upcoming two part docu-series, The Newark Project, about education reform in Newark, NJ. She is director of her controversial, award-winning, feature documentary, PROJECT WOW: Men On The Down Low, which broadcast on BET J series, Black Stories and is currently being distributed in feature length by Echelon Studios Inc.
KOSI HARRIS is a professional publicist who specializes in fashion, culture and art projects including Blerd City Con and Reel Sisters. For information on Kosi visit www.kosiharris.com.
JENNIFER HESLOP, Film Festival Coordinator
Jennifer Heslop is proud to be Reel Sisters Film Festival Film Coordinator for the past 3 years. She is also the founder of motivateArt, a creative consulting agency and resource hub for artists and creatives, providing Information, Inspiration and Interaction!
BILLI MARTIN, Reel Sisters Production Team
T. Billi Martin, a proud Brooklynite, transitioned from runway modeling to tv & film production after attending acting classes with celebrity coach, Tracey Moore. After achieving her Bachelor’s Degree in Media Arts/TV & Film production, she has rigorously been working as a writer, director, producer and all-around filmmaker working on theatre, film and tv productions for FOX, HBO, MTV, BET and The CW along with various film companies. She currently produces and hosts popular tv shows on the Brooklyn Free Speech channel – The Caribbean Voice TV, BFunny, and the award winning TV series Women Are Talking TV. To know more, you can visit her website at www.billimartin.com.
NAIM VANN, Technical Production Manager
Naim Vann is an aspiring filmmaker who studied radio, film and theatre arts at Howard University. He was named a Tom Joyner Foundation “Hercules Scholar” for his outstanding achievements while attending Howard.
DeAnna Williams, Volunteer Coordinator
DeAnna Williams is an actress and lover of the arts. She has worked as a program and logistics manager for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, among other top level humanitarian organizations.
STEPHANIE WOODS, Reel Sisters Production Team
Stephanie is a Bronx native who graduated magna cum laude from The College of New Rochelle with a BA in communications. Stephanie is a vocal community activist who sits on the board of Community Board #10 in the Bronx; Stephanie is Co-Chair to the Co-Op City Ad-Hoc Committee with a deep love for community as well as the hip hop culture. Stephanie has a long history as hip hop public relations representative. Stephanie received a Citation from The Borough of Brooklyn President Eric Adams for her tireless efforts as a photojournalist and as a hip hop activist which included her over 15 year history a as a board member of the Universal Hip Hop Parade. Mrs. Woods also received The Woman of Excellence Award 2018 from Councilman Andy King and a Community Service Recognition Award from Congressman Eliot Engel. Stephanie’s photojournalist’s works have appeared in the Harlem Times, Hush Hip Hop Tours, Four Korners Hip Hop Newspaper, The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, published book: From Hip Hop to Heaven, The New American Newspaper, and Q World Magazine. Stephanie continues to volunteer for many artistic causes throughout the city which include The Harlem Fine Arts Show, The 2018 Lung Force and The Harlem School of the Arts, while maintaining her artistic interest in films.