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August 1993


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Ramona Curry <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 25 Aug 1993 07:07:35 CDT
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (35 lines)
This is a delayed response to Bjorn Sorenssen's inquiry about sources for
the 1991 film *Daughters of the Dust*, written and directed by Julie Dash.
Besides several articles about Dash and the film in the *New York Times* in
1991-92 (when the film showed on the program "American Playhouse" on U.S.
Public TV -- in July 1992), I know of two useful sources of background infor-
mation on the film:  an interview with Dash conducted by Zeinabu irene Davis
and published in the film journal _Wide Angle_ 13:3-4 (July-Oct. 1991) 110-18,
and a book about the making of the film, including the screenplay and some
beautiful frame enlargments, _Daughters of the Dust:  The Making of an African-
American Woman's Film_, by Julie Dash with Toni Cade Bambara and bell hooks
(New York City: New Press, 1992).
The film program in which I teach has integrated the film into the Introductory
Film course (taken by ca. 400 students per semester).  We don't show the film
until late in the semester, but by that time most of the students have devel-
oped the skills and patience to learn from and enjoy it.  While most of them
(and some of the T.A.'s who teach the film in small discussion sections) have
had some difficulty initially comprehending the story and the style, we have
found that the background reading and discussion clarifies that for most and
that a subsequent viewing wins fans for the film.   Several teachers approach
the film as an instance of writing an alternative history, others in the con-
text of African-American women's literature, e.g. Toni Morrison or even Zora
Neale Hurston, with particular regard to the elements of folklore and oral
history depicted.  All approach it as a stunning visual/aural experience-- it
is on this level that the film (though not necessarily the video-- we show the
film in 35mm) succeeds for most on first viewing.
Bjorn, I hope this helps (also to the person, whose message I've lost, who
commented on how incomprehensible the film seeems.)
Ramona Curry
University of Illinois  [log in to unmask]