When Julie Dash decided to make DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST, she had more than just a business that didn’t welcome either African-American or women directors, she had to contend with Hurricane Hugo rearranging the locations she had chosen for her groundbreaking film. Undeterred, she used one of those changes to her advantage. That was one of the first things we discussed on October 14, 2016.
We went on to talk about the incubation process that her film went through, the validation of its long theatrical run, translating it from celluloid to digital, and dealing with runaway trains in the New York City subway system,
We finished up with a fond remembrance of Dash’s longtime friend, the broadcaster, culinary anthropologist, author, and bon-vivante, Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, who is the subject Dash’s upcoming documentary and who taught Dash to be confident about being a Geechee.
Dash left me with her thoughts on the legacy of DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST, and the effect it still has with people who greenlight movies.
DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST remains a milestone in cinema history in general, and for both African-American and women filmmakers. Filmed entirely outdoors, and using the rich culture of the Gullah Islands as its source material, it is the story of Peazant family as they are on the cusp of leaving their island home. Told with magical realism expertly blended with the harsh reality of life for African-Americans in that time and place, it is a haunting experience as timely now as when it was released a quarter-century ago. Dash’s other work includes THE ROSA PARKS STORY, FUNNY VALENTINES, and the upcoming documentary about Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, TRAVEL NOTES OF A GEECHEE GIRL.