2017 Spirit of Queens Award goes to filmmaker
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Jan 10, 2017 | 7768 views | 0 0 comments | 432 432 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Image courtesy of John Nowak/TCM
Image courtesy of John Nowak/TCM
"Daughters of the Dust" was the first feature-film by an African-American woman to receive a wide release.
"Daughters of the Dust" was the first feature-film by an African-American woman to receive a wide release.
On the opening night of the Queens World Film Festival, filmmaker Julie Dash will be honored with the 2017 Spirit of Queens Award.

Dash, a Long Island City native, made a splash in the world of cinematography. Her 1991 film, “Daughters of the Dust,” was the first American feature-film by an African American woman to receive a general theatrical release.

The film follows a three-generation Gullah family, descendants of escaped slaves, living on St. Helena Island off the Southeastern United States. The family are influenced by the Great Migration and prepare to migrate north.

The film was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004.

But ever since “Daughters of the Dust” came out, there seemed to be controversy following Dash. Despite meeting with Hollywood studios and agents, it’s been difficult and seemingly impossible for her to make any other feature film to date. In a ‘New York Times‘ article, Dash said a mini-major studio once told her “Daughters of the Dust” was a fluke.

However, with the release of Beyonce’s recent album “Lemonade,” which appears to have visuals heavily influenced by “Daughters of the Dust,” the film has been thrown back into the spotlight. The film was also digitally restored by its new distributor, the Cohen Film Collection.

Not only will Dash be in attendance to receive the honor on March 14at the Museum of the Moving Image, but she will also host a Q&A session the next day, March 15, which will follow a Moving Image screening of “Daughters of the Dust.”

Dash’s 1982 short film “Illusions” will also be screened at the festival at a later date. “Illusions” follows a female executive in Hollywood passing as white during World War II.

The film examines the power of perception and explores the illusions created by Hollywood and the very illusion of racial identity, festival organizers said.

While Dash has yet to release another feature-film, she has created television films including the 2000 film “Love Song” starring R&B singer Monica Arnold as well as the 1999 romantic thriller “Incognito,” and the 1999 domestic drama “Funny Valentines.”

She was nominated for a Directors Guild Award for “The Rosa Parks Story” starring Angela Bassett. Additionally, Dash has directed music videos for Tony! Toni! Toné!, Keb’ Mo’, Peabo Bryson, Adriana Evans, Sweet Honey in the Rock and Tracy Chapman.

The Queens World Film Festival will run from March 14 to March 19. For more information including the films schedule and screening locations, visit www.queensworldfilmfestival.com.

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