Daughters of the Dust is a 1991 independent film written, directed and produced by Julie Dash and is the first feature film directed by an African-American woman distributed theatrically in the United States. Set in 1902, it tells the story of three generations of Gullah (also known as Geechee) women in the Peazant family on Saint Helena Island as they prepare to migrate off the island, out of the Southern United States, and into the North.
The film gained critical praise for its lush visuals, Gullah dialogue and non-linear storytelling. The cast features Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers, Barbara-O, Trula Hoosier, Vertamae Grosvenor, and Kaycee Moore and was filmed on St. Helena Island in South Carolina. Daughters of the Dust was selected for the Sundance 1991 dramatic competition. Director of photography Arthur Jafa won the top cinematography prize. The film is also known for being the first by an African American woman to gain a general theatrical release.
Dash has written two books about Daughters of the Dust, one about making the film, co-authored with Toni Cade Bambara and bell hooks, and one novel, a sequel set 20 years after the film's story. In 2004, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." For its 25th anniversary, Daughters of the Dust was restored and re-released in 2016 by the Cohen Media Group.