Daughters of the Dust

Director: Julie Dash
Screenwriters: Julie Dash

Institute History


Julie Dash’s vibrant tribute to her Gullah ancestors is a celebration of their unique traditions and lifestyle, which these descendants of African slaves struggled to preserve on the seacoast islands off the Carolina and Georgia coasts. It is 1902, and many members of the Peazant family are preparing for a new, assimilated life on the mainland. Their choice to leave sparks tension with those who are remaining behind. There are snatches of story, but the film concentrates on capturing a time and place that no longer exist.

It is no wonder that this film won the 1991 Festival’s Excellence in Cinematography Award. Arthur Jafa’s camera embraces the Gullah world and lingers lovingly on its details, creating incandescent images: girls in white dancing on a beach; three women unfurling an enormous, tattered parasol; the soft ocean breeze stirring the curtains of a cabin.

Daughters of the Dust is noteworthy on multiple levels: it documented a slice of little-known history, marked the debut of an accomplished female filmmaker, and was part of a surge of black cinema in the 1980s and ’90s. Thanks to Kino International and the UCLA Film and Television Archive for providing this print, which has been beautifully restored by Janice Allen and Cinema Arts.

— Barbra Bannon

Screening Details

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