The Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series is an annual film festival founded by African Voices magazine. 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 for short narratives devoted to women of color across the globe. Reel Sisters is an IMDb qualifying film festival. Reel Sisters celebrates our 27th Anniversary in 2024.

APPLICATION INFO: YOU MUST SUBMIT PRODUCTION STILLS/PHOTOS and a TRAILER for your submission to be ELIGIBLE AND COMPLETE. You can screenshot photos from your film if you were unable to hire a photographer.

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 covers a small fraction of the administrative costs for running a professional Oscar qualifying 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." 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!

For complete application visit


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

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

• Reel Sisters is a top tier film festival Oscar qualifying 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 5,500 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. Reel Sisters has given over $75,000 in cash awards, fellowships and scholarships since our inception. In 2023, Reel Sisters Micro Budget Film Fellowship provided script to screen opportunities to three women of color filmmakers who received $5K each towards their short film project. Our fellows receive a premiere screening at Reel Sisters, an Oscar Qualifying festival.


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

(Will be opened shortly)
For complete application information visit


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. Your submission will not be complete without all 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.

OUR REFUND POLICY: Our entry fees are non-refundable. It is the responsibility of the filmmaker to read our guidelines and policies to ensure that they are eligible to submit to our festival.


- 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. We rarely accept films longer than 90 minutes. Your film must have a women of color as co-producer, co-director or co-writer, if the lead producer/director is male.

- We only accept films via FilmFreeway. PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL US ANY VIDEO LINKS. If you submit to FilmFreeway via a Vimeo link, you must provide a passcode to view. You must make your film downloadable for our production staff if your film is accepted. If you do not make your film downloadable by the requested deadline, your film will not be eligible for consideration.

- 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 downloadable trailer links from FilmFreeway or Vimeo to help promote your film in our festival. You must submit the trailers and photos with your application. If your materials are not submitted with your application, your film will be disqualified.

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

- All accepted films will be notified via email. Please make sure ALL of your Contact Information is up-to-date. If your email changed between the time you submitted your film and our Notification Date, please update it ASAP so we can correspond with you.

- Entries must be delivered by the deadline.

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

Overall Rating
  • Olubayo Jackson

    This was such a wonderful film festival. I felt supported and well treated. It was my first film festival and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. Having my short film selected was a honor and the whole thing felt like a family affair.

    November 2023
    Response from festival:

    Olubayo, you are a part of Reel Sisters Family! It was a true honor presenting your film in our 26th Anniversary season at the Miller Theater in Harlem! We wish you the best as your film continues to receive the light and audience it deserves!

  • Team Phoenix: David’s dream (GloboNews/GloboPlay, Brazil) is glad and honored of being selected to an Academy Award Qualifying film festival. Reel Sisters of the Diaspora opens incredible horizons for the journey of our documentary, offering us unprecedented visibility. It has been a spectacular experience in all criteria.

    October 2023
    Response from festival:

    Phoenix: David's Dream is a truly unique and amazing story of how a catastrophe was repurposed into an opportunity to create beautiful musical instruments and art! It's an outstanding story — we hope the film gains the global audience in deserves! Thanks for allowing us to showcase your film!

  • It was an honor to our short film, Confirmation, selected for the festival this year! While I couldn't make it in-person due to illness, I know that the staff put much time and care into curating an incredible collection of films by and about women of color. A rare gem in this industry.

    October 2023
    Response from festival:

    Nana, we hope you feel better soon! Thank you for your support and granting us the opportunity to screen Confirmation in our 26th Anniversary season festival!


    A truly special experience as a first time filmmaker. Great communication and hospitality. Reel Sisters are the real deal.

    May 2023
    Response from festival:

    Lisa, it was such a pleasure screening your film in Reel Sisters 25th Anniversary season! Wishing you continued success with future projects! Thank your for supporting the festival!

  • Lovely Experience!!! The program has effective communication and great organization.

    April 2023
    Response from festival:

    Evey, thank you for allowing us to screen your film in our 25th Anniversary season! Reel Sisters wishes continued success in your filmmaking journey!