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Film fest for women of color celebrates twentieth

A scene from the movie “How to With Callaloo.”
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The women’s festival reached a milestone!

The Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary next month on Oct. 21–22. The annual film festival has been a platform for the works of women of color, who are writers and filmmakers for more than two decades. In celebration of this achievement, organizers have planned a series of five events throughout Brooklyn and Harlem ahead of the festival, said festival founder.

“I wanted to be ambitious with what we were doing this year, so we decided to have a string of events leading up to the fest,” said Carolyn A. Butts.

Kicking off the month-long commemoration will be with a blast from the past with the screening of the documentary, “Black Women’s Joy: How Do You Play? – Little Sallie Walker,” at Kumble Theater on Sept. 27. The film showcases the childhood hand games and activities of young black girls.

Following that is an award ceremony honoring several veteran and established actresses at Billie Holiday Theatre on Oct. 7. Honorees for the Reel Sisters Hattie McDaniel Award will be presented to Vinie Burrows, and Reel Sisters Trailblazer Awards will be presented to actresses Tamara Tunie and Nicole Beharie, according to Butts.

This year’s festival will take place at the Alamo Drafthouse on Oct. 21 and at AMC Magic Johnson Theatre on the Oct. 21–22. Its lineup has a range a films from political activism to comedies.

Since creating the film festival, Butts said she was thrilled to see how far it has come and what the previously honored creators and actresses, such as Issa Rae and Naturi Naughton, have gone on to succeed.

“I’m really happy that we survived a lot of things because it’s not hard to be decent festival,” said Butts. “But what I’m happy about is to see the union of women in film. As women and people of color, people are creating ways to see themselves on screen and it’s a sign in time to be part of that.”

Butts said that the festival is a family-oriented and can be enjoyed and experienced by all types of film lovers.

“We are very diverse, and a unique thing about us is that we try to do inter-generational films so people of all ages can come because we are a community and family-based festival — we are not trying to be Hollywood,” she said. “We want to bring these stories into the community and for members of the community to see themselves reflected on television screens with dialogue and issues affecting them.”

Butts siad that it would be a bonus if members find inspiration and are able to tap into their creative senses.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.
Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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