The Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series is a two-day annual film festival founded by African Voices magazine and LIU's Media Arts Dept., Brooklyn Campus. Reel Sisters has expanded to include a six week season with a kick off in Harlem and awards ceremony. Established in 1997, Reel Sisters ( is dedicated to providing opportunities for women of color to advance their careers in the film industry. Reel Sisters accepts films written, directed, or produced by women/non-binary filmmakers of color. Reel Sisters is the first Academy Qualifying Film Festival devoted to women of color across the globe. Reel Sisters is an IMDb qualifying film festival.

Reel Sisters 23 Anniversary event will take place from Oct. 24-25, 2020 in NYC. Reel Sisters is a competitive festival and films are selected by an independent jury. Please submit films early as deadlines are final. The festival provides quality customer service and does not offer fee waivers. The fee helps pay for a small fraction of the administrative costs for running a professional film festival.

Reel Sisters accepts all genres and formats with a special interest in submissions from animated and web series producers. Send us films that will make our audience “cry, dance, laugh, sing and explore." Reel Sisters is an Academy Qualifying Film Festival for Short Narratives. The festival curates events throughout the year so all entries will be considered for Reel Sisters Tea & Cinema series. Join our worldwide community of film professionals in celebrating stories produced, directed and written by women of color!


• Listed in Film Daily's Top 10 Women Centered Film Festivals (2018)

• Profiled in Bushwick Daily, Shadow & Act, Film Daily, the Washington Post and Black Enterprise for presenting outstanding films by women of color from across the globe!

• Reel Sisters is a top tier film festival that provides a chance for women to gain distribution, network and access to opportunities in the film industry.

Reel Sisters screens original films by women across the globe each year — the festival has screened over 5,000 films since its inception. Awards for Best Director, Best Documentary, Best Screenplay, Best Experimental, Best Animation, Best Feature, Best Short, Best Narrative, Best Web Series, Best Original Soundtrack and the Reel Sisters Spirit Award are selected by an independent jury composed of filmmakers, community leaders and artists. In 2016, Reel Sisters presented the Reel Sisters/Centric Awards, which includes a distribution deal with Centric/BET Networks. The cash awards depend on our funding level. It was a pleasure to bring back our scholarship awards to the film festival and with your support we can continue this tradition.


Best Narrative Short - $1,000
Best Director - $500
Best Screenplay - $300
Best Animation - $200


TRANSLATION: Your film must be English dubbed or have English subtitles if it is in any other language.

PRODUCTION STILLS & TRAILERS: Please make sure you upload production photos with your submission and a trailer. If you do not have photos, you can screen shot a photo by pausing a scene in your film to create one. If you do not have a trailer, please mention this fact when you submit. Your submission will not be complete without some form of promotional materials uploaded.

NO WAIVERS: Entry fees cover a small portion of the festival’s administrative costs for processing submissions and are non-refundable. We do not offer waivers.


- Please read our guidelines carefully before submitting your film as we do not issue refunds for entry fees. It is your responsibility to ensure your film meets our criteria and submission guidelines.

- You are required to send us a downloadable link of your film via FilmFreeway only. Please contact FilmFreeway staff if you have any issues uploading your film and making it downloadable for our production staff if you receive an acceptance letter.

- We will need trailer links from Vimeo and Youtube to help promote your film in our festival. Please submit them with your application.

- Complete the details required, providing brief synopsis of the film, credits, production stills and additional promotional items. We accept photographs in all formats including JPEGs, TIFFs and EPS (electronic photos must be 300 dpi resolution for promotional purposes).

- Entries must be delivered by the deadline.

**Failure to deliver a digital screening file on time Forfeits any previous accepted invitation

Overall Rating
  • Gabriella Moses

    Fantastic venue and conversation afterwards. Was wonderful to have a festival representing so many different points of view from the Diaspora.

    June 2020
    Response from festival:

    Gabriella, thank you for supporting Reel Sisters! We're glad you appreciated our filmmaking community!

  • Danielle Eliska Lyle

    What can I possibly say about Reel Sisters Film Festival that hasn't already been said? It was such an honor to be a part of the 2019 line-up. Everyone a part of the RS squad were professional, kept us updated + the screenings and panels were wonderful. So grateful to have been an honorable mention for my film and how spectacular the whole festival was. I recommend all women of color to submit their films. It truly was an experience to remember. Carolyn + Billi, you both are amazing women. Thank you so much, Reel Sisters. You all are fabulous! xo.

    October 2019
    Response from festival:

    Thank you! It was a pleasure having Shield in our 2019 season and we're looking forward to continue our work serving women of color filmmakers! Please keep in touch and wishing you continued success!

  • Yolonda Johnson-Young

    Thank you Carolyn for an amazing time! Thank you for awarding Finding Elijah the Spirit Award.

    October 2019
    Response from festival:


    It was an honor sharing Finding Elijah with Reel Sisters and we look forward to continue supporting you as you touch people with your film. Thanks for your life affirming film!

  • Ellie Foumbi

    This is a great festival! Honored to have my film selected.

    November 2018
    Response from festival:

    Thank you for giving us the honor of screening your film! Wishing you the best on future film projects!

  • Wanjiru Njendu

    Great festival very prompt and communicative

    October 2018
    Response from festival:

    It was our pleasure in presenting your film! Thanks!