Archive for the ‘Daughters of the Dust (1991)’ Category

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Distributor: Cohen Media Group

Release Date: April 11, 2017

Region: Region A

Length: 112 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC

Main Audio: 2.0 English Linear PCM Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Ratio: 1.85:1

Notes: Cohen Media Group is also releasing a DVD edition of this film.

Julie Dash

Julie Dash broke through racial and gender boundaries with Daughters of the Dust when she became the first African American woman to have a wide and general theatrical release. Photo courtesy of Cohen Film Collection

Daughters of the Dust is a post‐slavery narrative about cultural memory, notions of home and belonging, and conflicts of Black female identity.” –Julie Dash (25th Anniversary Press Book)

Set at the dawn of the 20th century, Daughters of the Dust focuses on the members of the multigenerational Peazant family in the Sea Islands’ Gullah community. This community is made up of former West African slaves who adopted many of their ancestors’ Yoruba traditions but they struggle to maintain their cultural heritage and folklore while planning to migrate to the mainland. On the eve of their departure, an extended family picnic and ritual farewell departure is arranged and “Nana Peazant” (the clan elder) works to keep the family together and pass on the knowledge of their ancestors as they move ever further from their roots.

There are many kinds of films. Most seem to be the equivalent of a short story, others seem to function more like a novel, and then an extremely small fraction are more like narrative poetry. Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust is undeniably poetic—and her liberal use of symbolism only makes this more evident. Of course, this is the film’s greatest strength—but it is also bound to attract a smaller audience. Some will hate it for the same reason others love it, but it should be seen by everyone once if only to determine which category they fall into.

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The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Stars

Cohen’s two Blu-ray discs are protected by the standard Blu-ray case with the 25th Anniversary one-sheet framed by the Cohen Media Group’s “C” logo. Those who have indulged in some of Cohen’s other Blu-ray releases will know exactly what to expect here.

The menu utilizes footage and music from the film and is both attractive and intuitive to navigate.

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Picture Quality:

5 of 5 Stars

Daughters of the Dust received a loving 2K restoration by Cohen Media Group in conjunction with UCLA which was overseen by Arthur Jafa (whose cinematography made Daughters of the Dust such a rich experience). The resulting transfer was well worth their efforts. There is a fine layer of grain which betrays the film’s celluloid roots without ever becoming unwieldy and the image’s color and contrast is just as natural representing the original intentions. Fine detail often impresses but occasionally looks soft, but this seems to be the result of Jafa’s original cinematography. Fabulous!

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Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

The 2.0 Linear PCM Audio mix is a solid representation of the film’s original soundtrack. There aren’t any noticeable issues to report—even if some viewers might possibly find the lack of a more dynamic mix disappointing. The important thing is that this is an accurate rendering of the film’s original intentions without any unfortunate anomalies to mar one’s experience.

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Special Features:

4.5 of 5 Stars

DISC 1:

Audio Commentary with Director Julie Dash and Michelle Materre

This is an engaging and above average commentary track—albeit sometimes a bit dry in tone. The commentary takes the form of an interview at times, but the questions asked and the answers given often reveal worthwhile production information or astute analytical observations. There is some unfortunate overlap with some of the other supplements included here, but those who admire this unusual film will find that it was worth their trouble.

DISC 2:

Interview with Julie Dash – (01:12:08)

Dr. Stephane Dunn (Director of Cinema, Television and Emerging Media Studies at Morehouse College) conducts this in-depth interview with Julie Dash (Director). Dash is articulate and engaging throughout the duration and reveals a wealth of information about the film and its production. This is a truly substantial and significant addition to this already incredible set.

Q & A with Julie Dash and Cheryl Lynn Bruce – (24:51)

Regina Taylor moderates this Q&A session between Julie Dash and Cheryl Lynn Bruce which was held at the Chicago International Film Festival and is another interesting interview session—this time bringing an actor’s perspective to the conversation. (Bruce portrayed Viola Peazant in the film). It makes a nice companion to the other interviews found on the disc.

Interview with Cinematographer Arthur Jafa – (25:23)

Considering that the film’s cinematography is one of the film’s strongest and most important attributes, this interview isn’t merely welcome—it is essential. Jafa reveals instructive information about the film’s production as well as his career. It is the perfect way to round off this excellent collection of interviews.

25th Anniversary Re-Release Trailer – (01:35)

It is nice to have this re-release trailer included here, but one wishes that the film’s original marketing materials were included as well (or even instead) of this one.

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Final Words:

Daughters of the Dust is a classic of independent cinema and this new restoration release gives those who haven’t had the chance to see it yet a good excuse to remedy this issue. Meanwhile, those who love it will certainly wish to add it to their collection as it has never looked this good on home video.

Review by: Devon Powell

 

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