Pioneer director Julie Dash is set to join Spelman University as a Distinguished Professor in the Arts this fall where she will certainly leave a mark on the next generation of future filmmakers, artists, and creators.
Ms. Dash certainly does not need an introduction on this platform. She made history as the first black female director to secure a wide theatrical release in 1991 with masterpiece film Daughters of the Dust (currently streaming on Netflix), and has paved the way for an entire generation of filmmakers who are pushing forward towards their artistic pursuits.
Daughters of the Dust is set at the turn of the 20th century among South Carolina’s Gullah community, descendants of slaves who settled on the coastal islands. Notably featuring heavy use of the Gullah dialect, the unconventional story, narrated by an unborn child, follows the women of an extended family who have long preserved their beliefs, language, and traditions, but face irrevocable changes as they prepare to move to the Industrial north as part of the Great Migration.
In 1999, the 25th Annual Newark Black Film Festival honored Dash and Daughters as being one of the most important cinematic achievements in Black Cinema in the 20th century. In December 2004, The Library of Congress placed Daughters of the Dust in the National Film Registry where it joined 400 American films preserved as a National Treasures. Daughters of the Dust went on to greatly influence subsequent black cinema and black culture, and most recently was referenced in Beyonce’s Lemonade special for HBO.
Daughters of the Dust was acquired earlier this year by the Cohen Film Collection, and was re-released in theaters November of last year.
Recently, Dash was hand picked by Ava DuVernay (13th, Selma) to join the all female directorial team of Queen Sugar. She is also in production on a feature length documentary about Vertamae Smart Grosvenor, a world-renowned author, performer, and chef from rural South Carolina who led a remarkably unique and complex life based upon Grosvenor’s bestselling work, Vibration Cooking: or the Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl.