Daughters of the Dust directed by Julie Dash is back in theaters in celebration of its 25th anniversary. The film that tells the story of Gullah women living on St. Helena Island who prepare to migrate north during the early 1900’s has been restored with the intent to take hold of a new generation.
Oh and Beyonce fans, Lemonade is said to have been heavily influenced by this classic.
Although Daughters of the Dust broke barriers and was the first feature film directed by an African American woman in the United States to have a widespread release, it is the only feature film by Julie Dash. The NY Times had this to say about Hollywood shutting dash out,
“The movie, which is listed in the National Film Registry, has been digitally restored by its new distributor, the Cohen Film Collection, and has received a re-release this month at Manhattan’s Film Forum. But though Ms. Dash has spent years approaching Hollywood studios with projects, “Daughters” remains the only feature film she has been able to make.”
“I pitched to every existing studio out there and every mini-major from A to Z,” says Dash.
No agency would take her either,
“One agency told me I had no future,” “Another company, a mini-major, said it was a fluke.”
We can only speculate as to why Hollywood gave Dash the cold shoulder. One thing is for sure, Julie put effort into ensuring the film had authenticity by doing intensive research about slave descendants, the Gullah and their culture. After her research she concluded,
“Typical male-oriented Western narrative structure” was not appropriate for the film.
Daughters was also seen as part of the L.A. Rebellion movement. In which black filmmakers made a move away from blaxploitation flicks.
“Not only was there the tremendous trash phenomenon of Blaxploitation movies, that was the background, but black filmmakers were expected to make movies with that kind of junk in it,” says Clyde Taylor, Black Historian and Film Scholar.
Perhaps, Hollywood didn’t take too kindly to Dash moving away from the standard. Who knows?
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