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Article: Daughters of the Dust

Daughters of the Dust

Daughters of the Dust, a sweeping, lush independent film written, directed and produced by Julie Dash, is just as breathtaking now as it was in 1991 upon release. The film follows three generations of Gullah women as they navigate their migration from an island off the coast of South Carolina the mainland. In depicting the journey, Dash-the first African-American woman to direct a feature film that was distributed theatrically in the United States--explores ideas of family, womanhood, identity, and race that still resonate today.

Dash’s iconic visuals have been widely called upon in other forms of media, to evoke an image of black strength and beauty, most recently and perhaps notably, in Beyonce’s stunning video for Lemonade

Even while being a Sundance award-winning feature, Daughters of the Dust still did not ensure Dash’s future as a leading filmmaker in Hollywood. Constantly overlooked, 90s American mainstream entertainment did not accommodate her genius. Nevertheless, her film went on to affect and inspire people all over the world. In fact, in 2004, The Library of Congress added Daughter of the Dust to the National Film Registry, citing the film’s “evocative, emotional look at family, era and place."

This film inspires us to contemplate who we are and where we’re going, and to do it with honesty and creativity. Julie Dash’s stunning aesthetic and her trailblazing role in film-making for women of color, continually inspire us to make meaningful art and a thoughtful contribution to the world.

We’re particularly struck by the wardrobe of the Gullah women and its specific, yet timeless appeal. High-neck prairie dresses can be seen all over the streets of Brooklyn right now, as a whimsical return to the natural, “wild woman” aesthetic. 

 

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