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“Daughters of the Dust” Kicks Off Free Film Series

Trula Hoosier as “Trula” (top), Barbara-O as “Yellow Mary Peazant” (right), and Alva Rogers as “Eula Peazant” (bottom) in “Daughters of the Dust,” directed by Julie Dash. The film will screen May 12-13 at the Culver Center. Trula Hoosier as “Trula” (top), Barbara-O as “Yellow Mary Peazant” (right), and Alva Rogers as “Eula Peazant” (bottom) in “Daughters of the Dust,” directed by Julie Dash. The film will screen May 12-13 at the Culver Center. Photo courtesy of Cohen Film Collection
RIVERSIDE, California – The award-winning film “Daughters of the Dust” will kick off a free summer film series at the University of California, Riverside May 12-13.

The series, “Film for Thought,” is part of the Center for Ideas and Society’s Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies project. This two-year project will investigate issues surrounding economic inequality, access to higher education, religious identity and intolerance, and omitted or erased histories.

As the debut film in the series, “Daughters of the Dust” is co-sponsored by the UCR Speculative Fiction and Cultures of Science program. The screening will be hosted at the Culver Center of the Arts, 3824 Main St., on Friday, May 12, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, May 13, at 3 p.m. A panel discussion will follow the May 12 screening and will include: Jayna Brown, UCR associate professor of ethnic studies; Paulette Brown-Hinds, editor-in-chief of IE Voice; and moderator Derek Burrill, associate professor of media and cultural studies.

Tickets are free and may be reserved online.

“Daughters of the Dust” is a remastered and recently re-released 1991 feature film directed by Julie Dash of Los Angeles. The film follows the struggles of 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 – to maintain their cultural heritage and folklore while contemplating a migration to the mainland, even further from their roots. Dash, who is a fan of Afrofuturist science fiction and fantasy has said that she considers the film to be, in some sense, speculative fiction in the same vein.

The film was the first U.S. feature film by an African American woman director to achieve nationwide distribution. It won the Cinematography Award and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival in 1991; was selected for the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2004; won the Excellence in Cinematography Award at the Cascade Festival of African Films in 2005; and won a Special Award from the New York Film Critics Circle Awards in 2016.

The film series will resume at the Culver Center in July and August and will include a mix of full-length documentaries and shorter pieces. Film titles and show times are available on the center’s website and on the Culver Center’s film page.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded $250,000 to the Center for Ideas and Society in January for a series of seminars, public lectures, and films geared toward thoughtful reflection on economic inequality, diversity in higher education, religious heterogeneity, and the many still-untold histories of marginalized groups. Seminars will begin in fall 2017. Participating faculty, and undergraduate and graduate students will conduct original research on seminar themes, with results to be presented at a final conference in spring 2019. In addition to the summer film series, each seminar will be accompanied by a public lecture and film.

“We value the contributions of the Inland Southern California community in thinking about these topics,“ said Georgia Warnke, director of the center. “We hope the lectures and films will encourage widespread participation.”

The current grant is the second the foundation has awarded UCR for the Advancing Intercultural Studies project. The Center for Ideas and Society was awarded $208,000 in 2014 to conduct a related series of seminars exploring existing and future aspects of diversity in the United States, and to enhance appreciation of both the problems and the opportunities to which it can give rise.

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