SUBMISSION FOR OUR 2021 IS CLOSED 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. 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.

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.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the ongoing pandemic REEL SISTERS will be held online from Oct. 23, 2021-Nov. 7, 2021. We will return with our live festival in 2022 as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary! STAY TUNED for updates by Join our mailing list at

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!

NEW @REEL SISTERS: We're sponsoring our 2nd Scriptwriting Competition for 2021. Top 3 scripts will receive feedback from industry professionals, cash awards and a feature in our literary magazine and website. Our first place winner will have a table read at Reel Sisters 24th Anniversary Film Festival!


• 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 5,300 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.


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


1st PLACE FEATURE SCRIPT: $1,000, Table Read at Reel Sisters 24th Anniversary Film Festival and consultation with an industry professional. Profile published in African Voices magazine and Reel Sisters website.

2nd PLACE TV Pilot SCRIPT (30-60 min.): $500, Script Feedback and Profile published in African Voices magazine and Reel Sisters website.

3rd PLACE SHORT FILM or WEB SERIES (5-30 min.): $350, Script Feedback and Profile published in African Voices magazine and Reel Sisters website.


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.


- 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. 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


- All submissions must be original and the sole property of the applicant(s).
- Feature screenplays must be between 65-125 pages.
- Pilot scripts must be between 20-75 pages.
- Web series or short screenplays must be between 1-30 pages.

Overall Rating
  • Abbesi Akhamie

    What a lovely festival! I'm so grateful to have won the Audience Choice Award for my short film, The Couple Next Door. That you so much Reel Sisters for your hospitality and excellent communication. It was a joy to be a part of the festival despite COVID-19. I hope to attend the festival in person next year.

    December 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you for joining the Reel Sisters Family in 2020! It was a pleasure to screen The Couple Next Door in our first virtual festival. We are hoping you can join us next year once the COVID-19 pandemic passes and allows us to resume our live film festival! Wishing you the best in your future endeavors! Keep telling our stories!

  • Sophie SHUI

    This is an amazing film festival, as warm as a family.It was an honor to have my first film, narrative short "A Trip with Mom" screen at RSFF. Thanks Carolyn A. Butts the festival director and Sandra Proto the coordinator for giving me a lot of encouragement and help. I’m so happy to be part of the wonderful festival. I look forward to attending in the future.

    December 2020
    Response from festival:

    Sophie, it was such a privilege to have A Trip With Mom in Reel Sisters' first virtual film festival and have you join our Reel Sisters family! It was a pleasure seeing how much your film resonated and touched viewers attending our screenings. We're happy to have you in our filmmaking community and looking forward to seeing your future stories on the big screen! Thank you for your kind review.

  • Sonadie San

    incroyable ! malgré que nous n'avons pas pu nous rendre à cause du Covid, toute l'équipe du festival a tout mis en place pour qu'on ressente l'ambiance, comme si on y etait. un bel accueil, des gens chaleureux et passionnés. Merci encore !!!

    December 2020
    Response from festival:

    Bienvenue! Nous étions heureux de projeter votre film. Notre équipe vous souhaite le meilleur pour vos futurs projets de films!

  • Carolyn and her team at Reel Sisters are wonderful. We were so privileged to have a script breakdown of our film with two fantastic female screenwriting professors! The dialogue between cast and crew and audience is what we make these films for.

    December 2020
    Response from festival:

    Nicole, it was such a pleasure screening your film and hosting the script breakdown with your cast and crew of Joe & The Shawl! Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting did a wonderful job in discussing the character development, writing and acting in your short film. Thank you for your review! We can't wait to enjoy more great stories from you and your talented cast and crew!

  • Chantal Potter

    It was such an honor for my documentary, 'Balloon Man' to participate in this esteemed film festival and screen alongside so many extraordinary films! The curators made my team and I feel welcome and I thoroughly enjoyed my Q&A session with my fellow Howard University Alum, Kim Singleton. Thank you so much for a wonderful experience and for providing a platform for so many women of color to showcase their work!

    December 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you for your warmth and incredibly amazing story about your Dad. Balloon Man is historic and a gem! Our curator Kim Singleton thoroughly enjoyed your documentary and the privilege of interviewing you!