After a lifetime of watching Hollywood movies that lacked relatable storylines and characters, Amber DuPree, an aspiring filmmaker who identifies as a genderqueer Jamaican-American, has finally found refuge in a community of like-minded film lovers in Columbus through Sistah Sinema.

After a lifetime of watching Hollywood movies that lacked relatable storylines and characters, Amber DuPree, an aspiring filmmaker who identifies as a genderqueer Jamaican-American, has finally found refuge in a community of like-minded film lovers in Columbus through Sistah Sinema.

“When I go to the movies, 20 percent of the reason is for the popcorn, 30 percent is for the movie itself, and 50 percent is for the thoughts and conversations you have afterwards about how [the movie] really impacts your life,” DuPree said. “Sistah Sinema is a place where [those conversations] happen.”

On the second Saturday of every month, Dupree leads a small but growing group of film buffs, who come together at Stonewall Columbus to watch movies and engage in moderated, thought-provoking discussions about them. The movies, like the group,center on the lives and stories of queer women of color.

Sistah Sinema originated in Seattle in 2011, when founder Isis Asare sought to expand the movie-centered gatherings she held with her close friends in their living rooms to the greater Seattle LGBTQ community through regular, organized events. Through social media, Asare has since helped other LGBTQ-identified women of color launch chapters in 16 (and counting) cities so far, including Chicago, Kingston, Jamaica and Los Angeles.

On Saturday, Sistah Sinema Columbus will screen “Money Matters,” a 2011 coming-of-age film by Ryan Richmond that explores the unique challenges facing queer youth of color, particularly when it comes to mother-daughter relationships. The post-viewing discussion of “Money Matters” will center on overcoming trauma, including topics like personal tragedy, mental and physical illness, substance abuse and assault — all addressed in the film.

Past screenings have addressed a diverse range of topics, from gender identity to marriage equality and parenthood.

“These small group discussions are extremely deep and cover many personal experiences,” said DuPree, a senior film studies and strategic communications major at Ohio State University, who first learned about Sistah Sinema in April 2013 while volunteering at an Equality Ohio day of service.

Later that month, DuPree attended a Sistah Sinema Cleveland screening of filmmaker Tiona McClodden’s “Bumming Cigarettes” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, and decided to start a Columbus chapter shortly after, in May (with help initially from the queer women of color social and discussion group, Hey Girl Hey).

People of all races, sexual orientations and gender identities are welcome at Sistah Sinema events, which highlight movies that deal with queer identity in African-American, Hispanic, Asian and other communities that are traditionally underrepresented in cinema.

“Having this space to not only see an identity similar to you portrayed on film, but to have a community of people to talk about it with is invaluable,” DuPree said. “The majority of mainstream films are not giving these sort of stories the light of day, so how else are these conversations supposed to occur?”

Photo by Meghan Ralston