By Brooklyn Reader

October 8, 2015, 1:58 pm


A scene from Across The Tracks, by Michael Cooke

During the filming of Across The Tracks, by Michael Cooke

The Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival is on its way back to Brooklyn for its annual screening of the top-voted independent films written, produced and directed by women of color across the world.

Founded by African Voices magazine in 1997, Reel Sisters Film festival has screened more than 500 films by women of African, Caribbean, Latino, Asian, Indian and Native American descent. It is one of the first festivals to stimulate an international dialogue on improving the status of female directors, producers and screenwriters and has become a major launching pad for women directors to gain international exposure and recognition. The festival not only showcases films, but hosts panels and workshops.

This year’s festival will take place October 24 and 25, at the LIU’s Kumble Theater in Brooklyn.

Carolyn Butts, Founder of Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival

Carolyn Butts, Founder of Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival

“Reel Sisters is one of the few outlets that film lovers have to experience intellectually stimulating and empowering films by women from around the world,” says Reel Sisters co-founder Carolyn A. Butts. “We’re here to reclaim our stories and launch a national dialogue about issues affecting our community and families.

Reel Sisters received a National Endowment for the Arts Award to support its 17 Anniversary Festival in 2014. Monikka Stallworth, a recipient of the Reel Sisters 2003 Best Director Award, went on to have her film Mello’s Kaleidoscope featured in Robert DeNiro’s second annual Tribeca Film Festival.

This year’s festival explores a wide range of topics from teenage narratives about a 15-year-old living with the sickle cell disease who craves nothing more than to be a normal teenager like her friends and everyone else; to a filmmaker’s journey to rediscover her Haitian roots through a voyage back to the country where she finds the nation on the brink of a new Haiti; to a documentary exploring Jamaica as an Island mired in intolerance towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

There’s even an area entitled, “The Trifling Section,” where films discussing “bad behavior” are screened, including around such topics as “freeloading,” and “forgiving Chris Brown.”

Reel Sisters is sponsored by New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts and the Brooklyn Council on the Arts. The festival still calls LIU Brooklyn its home and is held at the Kumble Theater each year.



Here’s your full lineup:


AGAINST THE ODDS – 1 PM-2:07 PM, VENUE: Spike Lee Screening Room BUY TICKETS NOW!

Producer/Director/Writer: Sonali Gulati
Length: 11:30 min. Category: Narrative

As “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” dominates the pop charts, Maya writes in her diary everything that rocks her teenage world, from the assassination of Indira Gandhi and her parents’ divorce, to the latest pimple that made its appearance.

A scene from Big Time

A scene from Big Time by Sonali Gulati


Director: Matamba Kombila, Sabrina Mirva Ntsame Ondo
Writer: Matamba Kombila   Producer: Nathalie Pontalier
Length: 9:32 min   Category: Narrative

Anoushka, Chris Levy, Livia and Pierre, four deaf kids frustrated by their difficulties to communicate with their families and navigate the hearing world, invent a machine that will allow them to break the barriers of language and prejudice they face daily, giving them access to possibilities until then unimaginable.


ACROSS THE TRACKS  — Best Narrative Award
Director, Co-Writer, Cinematographer/DP, Editor: Michael Cooke
Co-Producers: Don Battee, Errol Sadler

, Isabella Way, Monica Hines
Co-Writer/Producer: Kimberly Y James
Co-Producer, Asst. Director: Monica Hines, Shaniqua Henry-Davis
Length: 15 min.    Category: Narrative

Two African-American sisters grow up in 1960s Georgia. But one is born with fair skin and when schools integrate, she decides to change her destiny — by passing for white.


Producer/Director/Writer: Ethosheia Hylton  Co-Producer: Laurelle Blake
Length: 19:51 min.   Category: Narrative

Lia is a 15-year-old girl living with the sickle cell disease. She craves nothing more than to be a normal teenager like her friends and everyone else.


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