Twenty-five years ago, the first feature length film directed by an African-American woman received wide theatrical distribution.
The woman was Julie Dash. The film was “Daughters of the Dust.”
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of this milestone, the Nickelodeon Theatre will present “Daughters: Celebrating Emerging Female Filmmakers of Color,” a three-day film festival featuring works by a select group of contemporary female filmmakers of color.
The festival is Friday, Nov. 11 through Sunday, Nov. 13.
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“This festival is important because it shifts a lens onto a viable market of rich content that has been traditionally under-funded, denied access to distribution and therefore, on the outskirts of mainstream media,” said Roni Henderson, co-curator of the festival and a presenting filmmaker. “These films are beautiful, honest and offer reflections on universal themes – all the reasons we love good film in general.”
“Daughters of the Dust” is both a point of celebration and should be a point of shame for the film industry in America, Henderson said.
“Why did it take so long for the studio system to believe that a story by a black woman, about black folk was marketable and worthy of a green light?
“In spite of the fact that it was only 25 years ago, it’s important to note that the film definitely galvanized young storytellers to pursue the art. It’s central to why I’m even a filmmaker. The film, from a business standpoint, proved that people did in fact, not only want to see black skin on screen, but that they also wanted to see them as Julie saw them: Gorgeous, complex and human, facing what all families must face as the world changes.”
To commemorate the 1991 release of “Daughters of the Dust” and to explore the film’s legacy, Nickelodeon will feature Henderson and several other female filmmakers of color, including Garrett Bradley, New Orleans; Janicza Bravo, New York City; Ja’Tovia Gary, New York City; House of June (Amber L.N. Bournett, Ebony Blanding), Atlanta; Nefertite Nguvu, Newark, N.J.; Tchaiko Omawale, Los Angeles.
The emergence of women of color making films has been slow. That’s why this festival is important, Henderson said.
“This group of emergent filmmakers are approaching the business of filmmaking in a variety of ways, from crowdfunding to pursuing organizational grants, to working day jobs to finance their independent films. And their work is amazing.
“In gathering them, we are hoping to assess how far we’ve come since “Daughters of the Dust” was released and what obstacles we still need to overcome.”
If you go
“Daughters: Celebrating Emerging Female Filmmakers of Color”
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 11-Sunday, Nov. 13
WHERE: Nickelodeon Theatre, 1607 Main St.
COST: $50 for a festival pass, $8-$10 for individual films