Daughters of the Dust

  • Directed by Julie Dash
  • United States, 1991, 112 mins., English

The first film directed by an African-American woman to receive a theatrical release, Daughters of the Dust is a landmark film and one of the cornerstone works of the latter stages of the L.A. Rebellion movement and signaled Dash as one of American cinema’s most incisive and urgent voices following its world premiere at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival. The film follows the Peazants, a Gullah/Geechee (coastal Georgia) family, who navigate a crucial generational divide—the younger family members long to move north in search of opportunity, while the matriarch (Cora Lee Day in an unforgettable portrayal) implores them to stay, in hopes of carrying on their way of life into future generations. Highly elliptical, beautifully shot by cinematographer Arthur Jafa, and featuring a poignant cross-generational voiceover that delves deep into the minds of the family, Daughters of the Dust, inducted into the National Film Registry in 2004, is a masterpiece of Black cinema that has influenced subsequent generations of strong individual voices. “I think independent filmmakers, black or white, at that time we were exploring new ways of telling the stories that we already knew. We were re-framing it…Can we change up now? It’s been 60, 75 years of the same thing over and over again.”—Julie Dash.

Genres: Drama