Experiencing Interruptions?

Sista in the Brotherhood

A black tradeswoman faces discrimination on a new jobsite and must choose between making a stand or keeping her job.

Winner Best Short Film AND Best Oregon Short Film at Portland International Film Festival.

Sista in the Brotherhood is a 20-minute, narrative, short film about a black tradeswoman who faces discrimination on a new job site and who must choose between making a stand or keeping her job.

The story follows a black, apprentice carpenter (Sidony O’neal) who struggles to prove herself on her first day at a new job site. An outlier in a white, male-dominated workforce, she’s forced to navigate the crew’s reactions to her. When tensions arise, she receives inspiration from a surprising source to help her decide to either make a stand or risk never being recognized as the skilled worker she has become.

The film was inspired by the doctoral thesis of co-Executive Producer, Dr. Roberta Hunte and partly based on the experience of Latina director Dawn Jones Redstone's experience as a union carpenter. The original script was written by Dawn Jones Redstone and Kjerstin Johnson.

  • Dawn Jones Redstone
  • Roberta Hunte
  • Dawn Jones Redstone
  • Kjerstin Johnson
  • Sidony O'Neal
    Key Cast
  • Joshua Rice
    Key Cast
  • Kia Anne Geraths
    Director of Photography
  • Roberta Hunte
    Executive Producers
  • Dawn Jones Redstone
    Executive Producers
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes 37 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 11, 2015
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Portland International Film Festival
    Portland, OR
    February 20, 2016
    Festival Premiere
    Best Short Film AND Best Oregon Short Film!!
  • Portland Oregon Women's Festival
    Portland, OR
    March 3, 2016
  • Sarasota Film Festival
    Sarasota, FL
    April 3, 2016
    Florida Premiere
  • African American Women in Cinema Festival
    New York City
    March 24, 2016
  • Workers Unite Film Festival
    New York City
    United States
    May 12, 2016
    Best Narrative Short Film
  • Bluestocking Film Festival
    Portland, Maine
    United States
    July 15, 2016
    New England
  • BronzeLens Film Festival
    Atlanta, Georgia
    United States
    August 25, 2016
    Georgia Premiere
    Nominated for Best Short, Winners announced Aug 27
  • International Black Film Festival
    United States
    October 21, 2016
    Tennessee Premiere
  • Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival
    New York City
    United States
    October 22, 2016
    Spirit Award
  • Savannah Film Festival
    United States
    October 24, 2016
  • Local Sightings Film Festival
    United States
    September 23, 2016
    Best Short
  • Baltimore International Black Film Festival
    October 7, 2016
  • Bend Film Festival
    Bend, Oregon
    October 7, 2016
  • Winter Film Awards
    New York, New York
    Best Short Film
  • Chicago Feminist Film Festival
    Best in Show
Director Biography - Dawn Jones Redstone

Dawn Jones Redstone is a gay, Latina filmmaker living in Portland, Oregon. She has been making films for about 15 years creating media for the likes of Bitch Media, Current TV, Joy of Cooking, OPB, and more. After working as a carpentry instructor for nine years at a non-profit called Oregon Tradeswomen, in 2012, she left to pursue her dream of filmmaking full time and started Hearts+Sparks Productions. In 2014, she collaborated with Dr. Roberta Hunte to raise over $13,000 on Kickstarter and received a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council to make Sista in the Brotherhood.

As an artist, she is fascinated by stories of personal transformation and the interior monologues that move us forward. She is committed to creating films that help balance the media representation of women and people of color both in front of and behind the camera.

She is also a journey-level carpenter from the United Brotherhood of Carpenter and Joiners and the recipient of the 2016 Lilla Jewel Artist Award.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I worked as a union carpenter for six years. My apprenticeship was demanding both physically and mentally. The labor required in building construction can be tedious and grueling to a newcomer and every task was something I had never done before. My body ached and I remember coming home barely able to close my hands after gripping tools all day. My co-workers at the time, had never worked with a woman before, let alone a Latina who happened to be gay. One day my boss asked me why I was there. I said, “I’m here to work.” He nodded before sending me to go clean up after everyone else for the rest of the day. I spent a lot of time proving I could hold my own and actual power tools. I loved the work though and eventually, I completed my apprenticeship and “journeyed out,” as they say.

Years later, I watched My Walk Has Never Been Average, a play based on the doctoral thesis of Dr. Roberta Hunte and directed by Bonnie Ratner. The play was an unsettling rundown of the unique difficulties black women in construction trades face, but also moving and inspiring to see how they persevere and support one another. I loved how these women’s stories were brought together as a play, so I approached Roberta—a longtime friend from our days at Oregon Tradeswomen—about creating another tradeswomen story in the form of a film.

Sista in the Brotherhood was an attempt to realistically portray what it’s like to work as a woman of color in the white, male-dominated environment of construction. Not only does the industry’s traditional worker fit into a very thin demographic—a white male— but the culture of the trades itself is a tough one. Hazing, mocking, and teasing are typical forms of communication, possibly an attempt to toughen up workers for the sometimes very physically demanding work of construction.

Times have changed since that culture was created—in addition to technological and safety advances that shift the industry culture, the reality is that the construction trades can no longer consist of primarily white men and still survive. With baby boomers retiring in droves, the industry must seek non-traditional workers to replenish their labor. At the same time, women need access to living wage careers more than ever before, and the trades that can pay rather well and don’t require a college education.

I was drawn to this story because of my own experience in construction. It was a strange kind of therapy to direct actors to play some of the least kind tradesmen I worked with in my years in the field. And it was such a thrill to show one woman’s moment of truth. Laneice is a skilled union, carpenter forced to keep her head down on the jobsite until she can find her allies or at least figure out how this particular crew works. And when the tension between her and her foreman becomes too much, she is forced to decide how to carry herself through. It is this moment of personal decision that I was most fascinated by as it communicates the universal perseverance and preservation of the human spirit.