Daughters of the Dust (1991)
1h 53m / PG / Historical Drama
Daughters of the Dust tells the story of the Peazant family, a multigenerational and matriarchal group of women on the precipice of a life-changing decision. They are Gullah people, whose ancestors were brought as enslaved people to islands off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina and, in the isolation of the large island plantations and over hundreds of years, blended their languages and traditions to create a unique and enduring culture of their own. Set in 1902, the film shows the family as they each decide for themselves whether to stay on their island and practice the old ways or migrate to the mainland and embrace a more “modern” way of life.
With shifting, lush, dreamlike visuals and dialogue spoken in Gullah creole without subtitles, writer-director Julie Dash creates a filmic family album — half full of happy memories and half sharp reminders of what’s been lost. Shannon Kelley of the UCLA Film Library says it “eloquently frames […] the place of family and tradition in ameliorating historical wrongs, the hope of spiritual escape from a history of trauma, and the elusive possibility of finding deliverance together.” And perhaps most noteworthy of all, it was the first feature film directed by an African-American woman to be distributed theatrically in the United States.
It took until 1991 to break that barrier.
Guests are invited to stay after the screening for a discussion with University of Tampa film professor Taylor Curry and others to explore some of the themes presented in Daughters of the Dust and consider its impact on Black cinema.
The Black Love Classic Movie Series is presented by TECO in collaboration with the City of Tampa’s Community Engagement & Partnerships Department. Additional support is provided by Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey and University of Tampa First-Year Studies. Promotional support is provided by WEDU-PBS.