Film review: Daughters of the Dust

Still from the film Daughters of the Dust
Picture © Cohen Film Collection

Daughters of the Dust currently showing at the Filmhaus in Nuremberg.

Set in the 1920s, the Peazant family lives on an offshore island in the Atlantic Ocean: three generations, descendants of enslaved Africans, are members of the still isolated Gullah community – former west-African slaves who adopted many of their ancestor’s Yoruba traditions. Now they plan to migrate from their Sea Island home to the US mainland. The director puts Nana, the matriarch, and her daughters-in-law at the centre of a visually stunning, non-linear narrative. Males remain more on the sidelines in this story.

Poster for the film Daughters of the Dust

Poster © Cohen Film Collection

The first major release by a black female filmmaker, Daughters of the Dust, was met with wild critical acclaim and a rapturous audience response when it opened in 1991. Inspired by African narrative traditions, the dream-like film is a milestone in New Black Cinema. It has been immortalized in rap lyrics and has served singers such as Beyoncé and Solange as an aesthetic blueprint for their music videos, significantly influencing Beyoncé’s video album Lemonade.

As part of the film series Independent Women – Women Directors in US-Cinema, Dr Katharina Gerund from FAU-Erlangen-Nuremberg, a lecturer at the Faculty of English, will give an introduction to Daughters of the Dust on Saturday, 18th September at 8:00 pm. It is the first film by a black woman to have an official US release. More information and tickets are available here:

My personal rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ five stars

Daughters of the Dust is high-spirited and vibrant. The film tells of roots and migration, of the coming together and dissolution of a family group. At the centre of the plot are women as preservers of the African cultural heritage. Its power as a work of art is mainly expressed by the alternative mode of storytelling, the colour scheme and the soundtrack. It is definitely one of those films you’re likely never to forget.

Still from the film Daughters of the Dust

Picture © Cohen Film Collection

Country: USA
US release date: January 1991
Directed by: Julie Dash
Writers: Julie Dash
Cast: Cora Lee Day (Nana Peazant), Alva Rogers (Eula Peazant),
Barbara O (Yellow Mary), Trula Hoosier (Trula), Umar Abdurrahman (Bilal Muhammad), Adisa Anderson (Eli Peazant), Kaycee Moore (Haagar Peazant), Bahni Turpin (Iona Peazant), Cheryl Lynn Bruce (Viola Peazant), Tommy Redmond Hicks (Mr Snead)
Genre: Historical drama
Running time
:112 mins.
Language: English/Gullah OV (Original version without subtitles)

Session Times:
Sat 18th September / 8:00pm
Wed 29th September / 6:30pm

Filmhaus im KunstKulturQuartier
Königstraße 93
90402 Nuremberg
(near the central train station Hauptbahnhof, Nuremberg)
Phone: +49 911 231 7340
Ticket prices: €4.50–€7.00/€12.00* (*entry for silent films with live music).
Concessions: Filmhaus café

Please note, due to Covid-19 restrictions, it is highly recommended to purchase tickets in advance, either online (via or during regular opening times (Mon–Fri: 10am–6pm) at the ticket counter of the Kultur Information at the KunstKulturQuartier, Nuremberg.

This article is written in British English.

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