Carolyn A. Butts is a “Reel Sister”

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 I had the opportunity to speak with Carolyn A Butts, the founder of both African Voices Magazine and the upcoming Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and Lecture Series which will be screening films written, produced and directed by women of color on Saturday, October 19 and Sunday, October 20th.

“I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I founded the film festival with a wide range of writers, artists and filmmakers. After 25 years of being located in Manhattan we finally moved our offices to Brooklyn and are now celebrating 27 years. We are trying to use the space as a popup gallery where we feature visual artists, do small craft workshops around healing and use the offices for both African Voices magazine and the film festival. Our offices are located at 325 Lafayette Ave in Brooklyn, across the street from Pratt, near Randy Weston Way and Lafayette Ave.” explained Butts.

After learning editing, printing, graphics etc, while in high school, Carolyn eventually went into public relations working for politicians in their press office. She learned a lot about politics working with Comptroller H. Carl McCall and as a press aide for Borough President Ruth Messenger. She learned how to navigate and get the resources needed to start her organization once she realized politics was not her bailiwick. However, Ms Butts also served for a while as a reporter for the New York Post while simultaneously writing articles for the Amsterdam News. “I felt that the Amsterdam News nurtured me and allowed me to cover my own community. The Post challenged me as a writer since the articles I wrote for the New York Post were assigned and I had to write from a certain perspective. I learned a lot from them. Eventually, working for the NY Post inspired me to launch African Voices (AV) in 1992. I loved that because I could control what I wrote. I started AV with Kenneth Meeks and a team of people who helped me edit, find writers and artists. I soon learned however it took money to put out a magazine.”

African Voices Magazine covers all genres of Art. It features poetry, paintings, theater, book reviews, dance, choreographers, short stories and plays. Also, all the arts including fine arts, visual arts and sculpture. Reel Sisters was inspired by African Voices. After realizing that less than 1% of women of color in Hollywood get their films produced, Carolyn saw the need for a venue to review the films of women of color. She is working on her own feature film documentary project entitled “The Drum Master” about radio show host Gary Byrd. The documentary is shelved for now until she gets further financing. Her lecture series “I Got Your Back” covers domestic abuse, violence and the need to heal. 

“Some of the films we are featuring as part of the lecture series are: “Ballet After Dark,” “And Nothing Happened” which highlights women who have faced trauma in their lives,” remarked the busy entrepreneur.

Every October the film festival is presented. The kick-off is generally in Manhattan as it was at the Dwyer Cultural Center on October 5th. It then continues in Brooklyn. People are encouraged to come out to the Alamo Draft-house, located at 445 Albee Sq West in Brooklyn, on Saturday, October 19th from 1:00-9:30pm; “The Apollo” will be Saturday's feature film and on Sunday, October 20, from 1:00-6:30pm wherein they will provide a free screening called SKIN. So, buy your festival tickets which enable the Festival to give back to the filmmakers so they can continue their work.

Those interested in submitting their films to the festival can get info by going to www.reelsister.com.

 

 

 

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