The Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts is showing the landmark movie “Daughters of the Dust” Nov. 25 and 26 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 27 at 2 p.m. On Nov. 27 at 4:30 p.m. interdisciplinary artist Jova Lynne and cultural producer Njia Kai will discuss the movie’s themes and talk about their experiences as women creators. Kai will also talk about her work on the film as a camerawoman. The dialogue will be followed by a short Q+A session
“We are honored to celebrate this landmark film,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director. “Elevating the artistic practice of women and African American filmmakers is an important aspect of celebrating the diversity of our world, and a critical component of creating new understanding.”
“Daughters of the Dust,” is a 1991 independent film written, directed and produced by Julie Dash, and the first feature film directed by an African American woman to be distributed theatrically in the United States. In 2004, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
Set in 1902, “Daughters of the Dust” tells the story of three generations of Gullah women, whose ancestors were brought to the islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia as enslaved people centuries ago. The Gullah developed a language and culture that was creolized from West Africans, which the film beautifully captures.
The story centers on women in the Peazant family, including daughters who have come back for a last dinner on the island before most leave for the North. The movie is narrated by the “Unborn Child,” and is influenced by accounts of ancestors, represented especially by Nana Peazant, the matriarch. She says, “We are two people in one body. The last of the old and the first of the new.”
“Daughters of the Dust” explores the intergenerational tension between the nuanced naivety of the younger generation and the subtle wisdom of the old. It looks at what is lost when traditional ideals and expectations are dismissed, and what happens when general archetypes associated with women are dismantled and redefined altogether. As the story unfolds, it raises issues of the multiplicity of identity, black subjectivity and the creolization of cultures, with a focus on the black woman.
There is no charge to attend the conversation on Nov. 27, but tickets for the movie are $9.50 for general admission, $7.50 for DIA members, seniors and students.
The Nov. 27 discussion is hosted by the DFT, DIA and the Black Artists Meet Up BAMU was established in response to the underrepresentation of black artists, writers and critics in the professional arts world. Each month, BAMU brings together emerging and established Detroit black artists and critics for conversation around contemporary artistic practice.