Daughters of the Dust [1991]

Genre: Drama, Romance
Working with a theme and history that's obviously dear to her heart, first-time writer-director Julie Dash's exquisitely alive film chronicles the last days of the Gullah, an Americanized West African people in danger of losing their identity. Dash makes up for some overly schematic dialogue and an occasionally pokey pace with some strong performances (particularly Cora Lee Day as the sternly matriarchal Nana) and an absolutely wonderful visual sense (kudos should also go to her ace cinematographer Arthur Jafa, whose dazzlingly sumptuous imagery surely inspired Jonathan Demme's later Beloved). A rapturously textured, wholly mesmerizing glimpse into the Gullah culture. --Andrew Wright

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