St. John Film Society (SJFS) resumes the 2013 season at 7:30pm on November 5 at St. John School of the Arts in Cruz Bay with the epic dramatic feature film Daughters of the Dust, written, produced, and directed by Julie Dash.
Daughters of the Dust is a milestone independent film – the first feature film by an African-American woman to receive widespread theatrical distribution in the U.S., the film received the prestigious Sundance award for Excellence in Cinematography.
“Not only visually stunning, this film particularly resonates with us [SJFS Programming Committee] as an island tale and a tale of the deep impact migration to the mainland has on a culture – themes that the territory has experienced firsthand,” said Michelle Ward, who heads up membership and publicity efforts for the society. “It is a courageous and original story the likes of which we have never seen before and won’t easily forget.”
Off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, The Sea Islands were the Ellis Islands of the transatlantic slave trade, the dropping-off point for the forced immigration of millions of West Africans. The heat, insects, and threat of yellow fever made the islands inhospitable to white settlement yet it is here, isolated in a swampy environment adjacent to an untamed coastline that the Gullah community – descendants of West African slaves who worked the indigo, rice, and cotton plantations — thrives, steeped in ancient Yoruba tradition.
Daughters of the Dust is set on a summer day in 1902, fifty years after emancipation, and a farewell picnic is underway on the beach where the Peazants of Ibo Landing, in their Sunday best, are gathered for a feast of shrimp gumbo, fresh clams, yellow corn, and johnnycake. On this eve of the family’s planned migration from their insulated paradise to a modern, industrialized North, tensions are high. The young women of the family, romantic in long white dresses, move as languidly as clouds while a photographer records them for posterity. The family performs West African rituals as elders fear once the Peazants have dispersed throughout the North, their culture may not survive.
Evoking a griot’s oral narrative set to film, or an impressionist portrait, Dash effectively serves up a visually appealing moment in African-American history. Tales of flying Africans, water-walking Ibo, Islamic and Native American culture are skillfully woven in small snatches throughout the film alongside turn-of-the century tableaus. Daughters of the Dust is a languidly-paced film that frequently stops in its tracks simply to contemplate the wild beauty of a semi-tropical paradise drenched in sea mist and strewn with palms.
Ward concludes “I have to agree with the critic who said ‘Daughters of the Dust is truly a cinematic feast for the eyes, and one that has to be savored slowly, taking sips from it as if it were a bottle of some elegant vintage wine.’ This will undoubtedly be the one film in the 2013 SJFS season that you do not want to miss.” The suggested donation is $5.00.
ST JOHN FILM SOCIETY PRESENTS:
Daughters of the Dust
DATE: Tuesday, November 5, 2013
PLACE: St. John School of the Arts, Cruz Bay
$5 suggested donation
For more information contact Michelle Ward at 340- 201-2407