The Sabira Cole Film Festival (SCFF) is built to serve Pittsburgh’s Pan-African arts and activist communities. We stand on the foundations Sabira built by running the Sembene Film and Arts Festival for 11 years, before tragically passing in February of 2020. SCFF showcases films and other art/cultural events that speak, unflinchingly, to the important issues facing the modern African Diaspora.

Submitted films will be judged by a panel and approved for official selection. All officially selected films will be screened during the festival in November and awards will be given to the films ranked highest by the judges.

The Film Festival has four main categories of submission:

The Home Town Hero-

This award is for films that are a shining example of what the Steel City has to offer. Films based in Pittsburgh, about Pittsburgh or by Pittsburgh residents should only apply for this award. It can be feature-length or short. This prize will only have one winner.

Feature-length narrative film or documentary -
A film of more than 45 minutes in length. Films may be from an original script or addressing a real-world event or issue. Films in this category will ideally be at least 45 minutes duration. Eligible for the Sabira Cole Award, Best Documentary Feature. The Festival will award a first, second and third prize.

Short narrative or documentary film -

A film of no more than 30 minutes in duration. Films may be from an original script or addressing a real-world event or issue. Eligible for the Sabira Cole Award, Best Short Film, Narrative or Documentary. The Festival will award a first, second and third prize.

Children’s Award-

Of the issues explored above, a particular concern of Sabira's throughout her life is how to lift up and celebrate our children. This is an expansion of the legacy of her mother, Geraldine B. Hill. To highlight the importance of future generations to the African Diaspora, the SCFF will also offer the Geraldine B. Hill Award, Films for Children and Youth. The Festival will award a first, second and third prize.

*Films considered for this award should be of appropriate length and content to show in a classroom setting - between 20 and 45 minutes, suitable for PG or PG-13 audiences.

*Special consideration will be given to films by young people (21 and under) for young people.

In addition to the category description, filmmakers are encouraged to look visit for a sense of the issues important to the founders of the festival.

In Addition to the submitted categories, one official selection will be chosen by the audience for the Viewer’s Choice Award. This award requires no further effort or submission fee and will be announced at the end of the film festival in November.


The festival accepts films and videos made by and/or about people of African descent. (Filmmaker needn't be of African descent.)
Films can be of any genre -- drama, comedy, horror, adventure, animation, romance, science fiction, experimental, etc. We want to be surprised and inspired by your work! The SCFF accepts features and shorts; narratives and documentaries.
Filmmakers may also choose to look at the previous screenings for a sense of the issues important to the founders of the festival. These include:
Significant and under-appreciated contributors to Pan-African music, arts and culture;
Great African Americans from the Greater Pittsburgh community;
Realistic and affirming portrayals of the individuals and communities of people of color;
Grassroots movements to build social and environmental equity in communities of color;
Progressive politics and criminal justice reform;
Highlighting under-appreciated milestones in Pan-African history;
Female leaders in communities of color;
Building multi-ethnic, intersectional coalitions for social justice;
The dreams, lives and needs of black children.

All submissions must be in English or have English subtitles.
The SCFF will only accept the submissions of substantially completed films -- please, no submissions of films less than 80% complete or films with missing scenes or audio portions.


The SCFF's accepted projection formats for Feature Films are DCP, online link, and Blu-Ray. For Short Films (25 minutes or less) you will be asked to submit an online link. We may also accept DCP and BluRay depending on program needs.

If there are any updates for projection formats, you will receive them with your acceptance notification.

All films should have subtitles or close captions

The SCFF will not accept watermarked films for public presentation.

As of a condition of entering, you assert:
• You represent and warrant that you are the sole author(s) of the video composition(s)
• You are the sole owner(s) of all rights in or otherwise have the right to license the video composition(s) and the publicity rights
• You have the full right and authority to enter into this agreement and to grant SCFF the rights granted in our filmmaker agreement if accepted.
• SCFF’s use of the composition(s) or the publicity rights as contemplated under our filmmaker agreement will not infringe or violate the rights of any third party, including without limitation, any copyright, trademark, or right of privacy or publicity.
• You represent and warrant that you have obtained all necessary licenses, permissions, consents, or releases as may be required for the use of any image of any person, object, sculpture, music, artwork, location, or other elements of the video composition(s).

Overall Rating
  • Great Festival ✊🏽 Thank you for hosting our film JUST LIKE WATER 🎥 Greetings from Greece 🇬🇷

    September 2022
  • Stoked for the official selection for our music video “Huesos” (Bones) at your The Sabira Cole Film Festival. For the rock band, the technical team and the participating actors it is an important achievement.

    December 2021
  • Seemed to be a well organized, eventful festival. I wasn’t invited to the in-person festival, and I didn’t receive any info on wether my short was being screened digitally, so I can’t speak to the experience of attending the festival or the screening experience. But based on email communications, it appeared to be a fun, professional, eventful festival that cares.

    November 2021
  • Alycia Cooper

    It was an honor to be a part of such a professionally run festival. Myself and my team are glad we submitted.

    November 2021
  • Hlumela Matika

    A beautiful festival honoring the life of an extraordinary film pioneer. I hope to see it grow from strength to strength.
    It was an honor to screen our film here and the organizers were incredibly kind. Well done to them.

    December 2020