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to mark international day of families, we’ll be watching Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (1

In 1993, the General Assembly decided in a resolution (A/RES/47/237) that 15 May of every year should be observed as The International Day of Families. This day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.

On 25 September 2015, the 193 member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 goals aiming to eliminate poverty, discrimination, abuse and preventable deaths, address environmental destruction, and usher in an era of development for all people, everywhere. Families and family-oriented policies and programmes are vital for the achievement of many of these goals.

To mark this day, we will be watching Daughters of the Dust (1991) Directed by Julie Dash

Julie Dash’s ground-breaking work follows a multi-generational family in the Gullah community on the Sea Islands off of South Carolina – former West African slaves who adopted many of their ancestors’ Yoruba traditions – as they struggle to maintain their cultural heritage and folklore.

The first wide release by a black female filmmaker, Daughters of the Dust was met with wild critical acclaim and rapturous audience response when it initially opened in 1991. Casting a long legacy, Daughters of the Dust still resonates today, most recently as a major influence on Beyonce’s video album Lemonade. Restored (in conjunction with UCLA) for the first time, complete with the correct colour grading overseen by cinematographer Arthur Jafa, audiences will finally see the film exactly as Julie Dash intended.

The story mostly takes place in 1902 and loosely weaves several strands that converge at a pivotal moment for the Peazant clan, a Gullah family (slave descendants whose isolation from the mainland allows them to retain vast portions of African culture). When we arrive, the family is preparing to migrate to the mainland. But it is unknown who all will join this symbolic and literal crossing. The lingering question provides much of the film’s uncertainty. A feast has been set which calls all the children home. Yellow Mary, a wayward prostitute tainted by big city life, and Viola, a Christian missionary who brings a photographer to capture her people’s beauty, arrive from the mainland. Eli and Eula are a young couple expecting a child, but we learn that the baby may well be the product of a rape Eula endured on the mainland.


Closed captions available on BFI Player


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