Rel Dowdell is an American screenwriter, film director, film producer, and English/screenwriting educator. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he received his Bachelor's degree in English with Magna Cum Laude honors from Fisk University and a master's degree in Film and Screenwriting with highest distinction from Boston University.
Dowdell's first feature film, Train Ride, received substantial critical acclaim. Produced with independent financing, the film was acquired and distributed by Sony Pictures in 2005 and was a tremendous financial success. Train Ride was ranked as one of the best American films that year as cited by veteran film critic Gerald Peary of The Boston Phoenix. The film also garnered high praise in film historian and writer Irv Slifkin's best selling book, Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City's Movies. Train Ride also won the honor of "Best Feature" at the American Theatre of Harlem Film festival in 2005. In addition, the film featured the last performance of acclaimed veteran actress Esther Rolle.
Rel Dowdell has been compared to John Singleton and Spike Lee in the way that his filmmaking blends urban storytelling and suspense to tackle relevant and universal social issues that are intimately intertwined with a powerful moral message.
Dowdell's next feature film effort as writer and director was a drama entitled, Changing the Game, which was shot in Philadelphia in the summer of 2010 and theatrically released in May 2012. The film stars Sean Riggs, Irma P. Hall, Dennis L.A. White, Brandon Ruckdashel, and Mari White. There were special appearances by Suzzanne Douglas, Sticky Fingaz, and Tony Todd. The film was cited by FilmFresh.com as one of the top three African-American films of 2012.