DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST
JULIE DASH | USA/UK | 1991 | 112 MIN | NR
Often cited as the first theatrically distributed film by an African American director, Julie Dash’s masterpiece is a tribute to the Gullah people of the American South—descendants of enslaved Africans who settled in isolated coastal areas and developed a distinct language and culture. Set over the course of one long day in 1902, Daughters of the Dust follows various members of the Peazant family as they prepare to leave their ancestral island home for a more modern life on the mainland. Dash weaves between various members of the clan, including hard-headed matriarch Nana Peazant (Cora Lee Day), who fights desperately to retain her connection to her ancestors and her traditional ways, and beautiful, mysterious Yellow Mary (Barbara-O), a “fallen woman” returning to the island after a painful absence. From these stories, Dash assembles a rich, varied tapestry, in which the history of the Gullah people is rendered through sublime visual poetry.
Cast: Alva Rogers, Bahni Turpin, Barbara-O, Cheryl Lynn Bruce
“One of the most distinctive, original independent films of the time.” –The New Yorker
American cinema has always held a mirror to the country’s ever-changing cultural and political landscape, giving the American people a chance to experience their deepest fears and loftiest ambitions magnified by the power of the silver screen. With State of the Union, PFS invites audiences to explore the country’s past and imagine its future through films that rigorously examine American leaders, institutions, and values while still being great works of entertainment.