Frequently Asked Questions
What is Sisters in Cinema?
Sisters in Cinema was founded in 1997 as an online resource for and about African American women media makers. Today we are a Chicago based 501(c)3 non-profit with an inclusive mission to center and celebrate Black girls, women, and gender nonconforming media makers, providing programs designed to educate, raise visibility, and support and serve our communities.
We envision a world where all Black girls, women and gender nonconforming media makers and storytellers have equal opportunities to create and thrive.
Who is the founder of Sisters in Cinema?
Yvonne Welbon (she/her) is an award-winning filmmaker and founder and CEO of the Chicago-based non-profit Sisters in Cinema, inspired by her documentary of the same name, about the history of Black women feature film directors. She is a Senior Creative Consultant at Chicken & Egg Pictures, and has produced and distributed dozens of award-winning films, including Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis @100. Welbon’s work has been broadcast on PBS, Starz/Encore, TV-ONE, IFC, Bravo, the Sundance Channel, BET, HBO, Netflix, iTunes and screened in over one hundred film festivals around the world. Projects in development include The Spies Who Loved Me, a thrilling exposé on surveillance which focuses on the six-years she lived in Taipei, Taiwan and American Pride, a Black lesbian coming-of-age series set on the south-side of Chicago. She has taught at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and chaired the Journalism & Media Studies Department at Bennett College. Raised in an Afro-Latinx Honduran household on the South Side of Chicago, Welbon holds a B.A from Vassar College, a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, and is a graduate of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women. In 2020 she became a member of the Documentary branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences.
When and why was Sisters in Cinema founded?
Sisters in Cinema was established as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation in 2014. But it was born from the curiosity that its founder and CEO, Yvonne Welbon had back in 1991, when she began film school with knowledge of only one African American woman director: Julie Dash. She knew there had to be other Black women filmmakers, so she set out on a journey to find her sisters in cinema. Since then, Yvonne Welbon launched Sisters in Cinema as an online resource for and about African American women filmmakers in 1997; completed her doctoral dissertation at Northwestern University, Sisters in Cinema: Case Studies of Three First-Time Achievements Made by African American Women Directors in the 1990s, which remains one of the only comprehensive histories on Black women filmmakers, in 2001; produced a documentary called Sisters in Cinema: A History of African American Women Feature Film Directors, the only comprehensive film on the history of African American women feature film directors, in 2003; and published a book manuscript related to the project called Sisters in the Life: A History of Out African American Lesbian Media-making, which is the first is the first text published by an academic press (Duke University Press) on the history of Black women media makers in 2018.
What programs does Sisters in Cinema offer?
Sisters in Cinema offers the following programs:
- THE SISTERS IN CINEMA DOCUMENTARY FELLOWSHIP supports Black women and gender non-conforming non-fiction directors currently in production on films that center our stories. The fellowship award provides recipients with a financial award, fiscal sponsorship and individually tailored mentorship focused on both professional and project development.
- THE SISTERS SCREENING SERIES is a curated program that celebrates the work of Black women and gender non-conforming media makers. Screenings are followed by a Q&A and are hosted at the venues of community partners. All screenings are free and open to the general public.
- THE SISTERS IN CINEMA NEWSROOM champions the development of journalism focused on the work of Black women and gender non-conforming media-makers working behind the camera – namely directors, producers, writers, show-runners, etc. – generating news stories, social media, video clips and mini-documentaries to increase the visibility of the makers and their work. In addition to working with young adults, the Newsroom includes a youth focused after-school and summer program.
- THE SISTER SOCIAL is a topical bi-monthly media industry-related networking gathering to celebrate, inspire, and create new bonds with our Chicago-based Sisters in Cinema community. The invitation only event is free to all attendees.
- SISTERS IN CINEMA PRODUCTIONS focuses on projects helmed by CEO & Founder, Yvonne Welbon. Current projects in development include the feature documentary, The Spies Who Loved Me and the series American Pride in partnership with The Black Lesbian Writers’ Room.
SISTER OUTSIDER is a walking group which promotes outdoor physical activity for women and girls. As one of the city of Chicago’s violence interruption programs, Sister Outsider builds community cohesion, promotes wellness, safety and peace.
Where is the Sisters in Cinema Media Arts Center located?
The Sisters in Cinema Media Arts Center is located in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood on the city’s South Side. It’s address is 2310 E 75th Street, Chicago, IL 60649. South Shore is the neighborhood where Founder & CEO, Yvonne Welbon grew up and still calls home.
What is the purpose of the Media Arts Center?
The purpose of the Media Arts Center is to support Sisters in Cinema’s mission to center and celebrate Black girls, women, and gender non-conforming media makers by providing programs designed to educate, raise visibility, and support and serve our communities. It will also be open to the South Shore community and Chicago-based industry professionals. The building will house gallery space, a 45-seat theater, edit/computer lab, offices and classroom/conference space.
When will the Media Arts Center open to the public?
The Sisters in Cinema Media Arts Center is scheduled to open in 2022.
How is the Sisters in Cinema Media Arts Center supported?
The Sisters in Cinema Media Arts Center is a recipient of a grant from the city of Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund. Other Sisters in Cinema supporters include The Field Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, The Chicago Foundation for Women, The MacArthur Foundation, The Ettinger Foundation, The Polk Brothers Foundation and hundreds or individuals donors from Chicago and beyond.
How can I support and get involved?
To learn about careers and volunteer opportunities at Sisters in Cinema, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested in supporting Sisters in Cinema through a tax-deductible donation can visit: www.sistersincinema.com and click the DONATE tab on the menu bar or donate directly here: https://www.paypal.com/us/fundraiser/charity/3285545.