Director: Julie Dash
United States, 1991, 112min
Festival Year: 2017
Category: Feature Narrative
|Cast:||Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers, Barbarao|
|Crew:||Producers: Julie Dash, Arthur Jafa, Steven Jones – Screenwriters: Julie Dash – Music: John Barnes|
At the dawn of the 20th century, a family in the Gullah community of coastal South Carolina — former West African slaves who adopted many of their ancestors’ Yoruba traditions — suffers a generational split. Young Haagar (Kaycee Moore) wants to move to the mainland away from tradition-bound matriarch Nana (Cora Lee Day). Former prostitute Yellow Mary (Barbara-O) gets a cold shoulder when she returns to the island with her female lover, especially from her sister Viola (Cheryl Lynn Bruce).
Twenty-five years ago, filmmaker Julie Dash broke through racial and gender boundaries with her Sundance award-winning film (Best Cinematography) Daughters of the Dust, and she became the first African American woman to have a wide theatrical release of her feature film. The Library of Congress placed Daughters of the Dust in the National Film Registry where it joins a select group of American films preserved and protected as national treasures; Dash is the only African American woman with a feature film that has been inducted into the National Film Registry. In 2012, Daughters of the Dust was placed with the Sundance Collections at UCLA. October 2015, Dash was a part of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), Trailblazing Women series, co-hosting an evening with Illeana Douglas. Dash is currently in production on a feature length documentary about Vertamae Smart Grosvenor, a world-renowned author, performer, and chef from rural South Carolina who has led a remarkably unique and complex life. The film is based upon Grosvenor’s bestselling work, Vibration Cooking: or the Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl. Dash has written and directed for CBS, BET, ENCORE STARZ, SHOWTIME, MTV Movies and HBO. She directed the multi-award winning movie The Rosa Parks Story, which earned two NAACP Image Awards, an Emmy nomination for Angela Bassett, and a DGA Best Directorial nomination. Additional films include Incognito, Funny Valentines, Love Song, and Subway Stories: Tales From the Underground. Her work as a film director includes media design for museums, a theme park pavilion for Disney’s Imagineering, and The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Museum’s environmental theater presentation of Brothers of the Borderland. Her work includes music videos, documentary, PSA’s, industrial documentary films, and commercial spots for fortune 500 brands, i.e., Coca Cola and GMC. Recent retrospectives of Dash’s narrative film work have been held in Beijing, Hong Kong University, China; Charleston, SC, Creteil, France; Taipei, Taiwan; and Philadelphia, PA. Dash also served as chair of the International Jury at the Kerala International Film Festival, India. Julie Dash is the Distinguished Professor of Cinema, Television and Emerging Media (CTEMS) at Morehouse College. From 2013-2015 she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the College of Charleston, in the department of African American Studies, and with the Avery Research Center for African American Studies; in 2013 she held the Bob Allison Chair in Media at Wayne State University. Ms. Dash earned her MFA in Film & Television production at UCLA; received her BA in Film Production from CCNY, and she was a Producing and Writing Conservatory Fellow at the American Film Institute’s Center for Advanced Film Studies. Dash has a novel published by Dutton books; and The Making of Daughters of The Dust, published by The New Press.