Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival + Lecture Series is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Oct. 21 and Oct. 22. Founded by African Voices publisher Carolyn A. Butts – Reel Sister’s Film Festival provides a unique platform for women of color in an industry that so often shuts them out. “ have so many dynamic women who are now producing and who are making opportunities for others,” Butts told me. “I think that’s wonderful. However, since I started the festival, Hollywood hasn’t been as progressive. We still need outlets like Reel Sisters because there are so many talented filmmakers and we’re one of the places where these filmmakers can be celebrated.”
Butts says she’s most proud of the family-friendly festival because of the relationships that she was able to help the filmmakers forge to get their work to wider audiences and on platforms like BET and Netflix. “I think the festival gives a chance for the audience to really see some of the untold histories that we have in our families,” she explained.
20 years after its founding, Reel Sisters is much more than just a film festival. The month-long celebration also provides access to leading professionals by presenting panels and workshops on topics from screenwriting to producing. In the past, Reel Sisters has honored everyone from Issa Rae to Julie Dash. This year, actress Vinie Burrows (Walk Together Children) is the Reel Sisters Hattie McDaniel Award honoree, the Reel SistersTrailblazer Award went to actresses Tamara Tunie (Law & Order: SVU) and Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow), and the first Reel Sisters Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to veteran film producer/director Nicole Franklin.
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