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Daughters of the Dust (1991)

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Languid look at the Gullah culture of the sea islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia where African folk-ways were maintained well into the 20th Century and was one of the last ... See full summary »

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Title: Daughters of the Dust (1991)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cora Lee Day ...
Nana Peazant
Alva Rogers ...
Eula Peazant
Barbarao ...
Yellow Mary
Trula Hoosier ...
Trula
Umar Abdurrahamn ...
Bilal Muhammad
Adisa Anderson ...
Eli Peazant
...
Haagar Peazant
Bahni Turpin ...
Iona Peazant
...
Viola Peazant
Tommy Redmond Hicks ...
Mr. Snead
Tony King ...
Newlywed Man (as Malik Farrakhan)
Cornell Royal ...
Daddy Mack Peazant
Vertamae Grosvenor ...
Hair Braider
Sherry Jackson ...
Older Cousin
Ervin Green ...
Baptist Minister (as Reverend Ervin Green)
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Storyline

Languid look at the Gullah culture of the sea islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia where African folk-ways were maintained well into the 20th Century and was one of the last bastion of these mores in America. Set in 1902. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

27 December 1991 (USA)  »

Box Office

Gross:

$1,642,436 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

[first lines]
Nana Peazant: I am the first and the last. I am the honored one and the scorned one. I am the whore and the holy one. I am the wife and the virgin. I am the barren one and many are my daughters. I am the silence that you can not understand. I am the utterance of my name.
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Connections

Referenced in Messenger (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Unconventional story of the past, present, and future of afamily
23 May 2000 | by (Edina, MN) – See all my reviews

Daughters of The Dust was produced by Geechee Girls and American Playhouse Company. The movie main focus is on the Peazant women. Nana Peazant is played by Cora Lee Day, and Eula, her granddaughter, is played by Alva Rogers who is pregnant and has been raped by a landowner. Nana's granddaughter, Yellow Mary, is played by Barbara-O who is returning, with her friend Trula, from the mainland and her life as a prostitute and wet nurse. Haggar, who has married into the family, is played by Kaycee Moore and wants nothing to do with the old traditions. Similarly, the Christian Viola, played by Cheryl Lynn Bruce, is returning from her life on the mainland.

Daughters of the Dust is a film written and directed by Julie Dash. It tells the story of a family of African-Americans who have lived for many years on a Southern offshore island, and of how they come together one day in 1902 to celebrate their ancestors before some of them leave for the North. The film is narrated by an unborn child, and ancestors already dead also seem to be as present as the living.

Julie Dash underwent many hardships in bringing the story to the silver screen. She had severe budget constraints, filmed in mosquito and insect infested areas, was delayed by Hurricane Hugo, sidetracked by sudden and violent sandstorms, and was forced to decide to either have a child or make the movie. In the end, she choose to give birth and nurture the story Daugthers of the Dust and the result is an unconventional masterpiece.

Initially, the response by white male critics was not favorable and they accused Dash of not adequately explaining the Gullah people, their culture, and their religious traditions. While attacking Dash, these critics failed to acknowledge many positive aspects of the film. The reasons behind this, according to Bell Hooks, is that "we've never been taught, most of us, in any history class that black people had different languages, had different religious practices, etc. So, to some extent, the film represents that challenge to a critic of any race" to review something they are not familiar with.

Because of these reviews and the fact that movie tells the story of African American women in an unconventional manner, it would seem to have slim commercial prospects. However, through word of mouth and some positive reviews it was able to generate a cult following. To date, the film has grossed 1.6 million from a budget of only 800,000.

The Newark Black Film Festival has chosen Daughters as the Film of The Century while the British Film Institute's Sight and Sound Magazine chose the soundtrack as one of the best in the past 25 years. It also received the Best Cinematography award at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991.

I believe the film hits the viewer on various levels. By placing the story in the early 1900's, Dash is able to show us a turbulent time for African-Americans and address many issues such as migration, lynching, and the changing African-American culture. Dash also shows and teaches us about Ibo culture and it's importance in the lives of those inhabiting the Sea Coast Islands, not just the African-Americans sharing the Gullah culture, but also the Native Americans, Muslims, and Christians.


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