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Julie Dash and the ongoing struggle of black women filmmakers

by Craig D. Lindsey.

In the realm of American independent film, Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust is a landmark. Shot on St. Helena Island in South Carolina with an $800,000 budget and starring a predominantly black cast, the film focuses on three generations of Gullah women.

Gullah refers to African-Americans who reside in the low-country Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia, and Dash’s story, set in 1902, narrates the emotionally charged conflicts that ensue when several family members decide to migrate to the mainland.

Dust premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and won a cinematography award. It’s worth mentioning that the American indie scene was remarkably fertile in those days: Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino were finding their legs, and the 1991 Sundance festival included breakthrough films by Richard Linklater (Slacker) and Todd Haynes (Poison).

While those filmmakers went on to great success in both independent and mainstream film, Dash was left, shall we say, in the dust.

Read the rest of this article from Indyweek.

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