Series 2 Episode 3
Indigo Tongues features Julie Dash
the first African American woman to have her film, released in US theaters. We catch up with Ms Dash in Manhattan during the 25th anniversary tour of this historical film.
Julie Dash is a Film Director, writer, producer and author. Her filmography spans over four decades of working in Film & TV in which she has been recognized as a trailblazer in her field.
She directed CBS Network’s “The Rosa Parks Story” which received a Director’s Guild of America (DGA) nomination in the category of “Primetime Movies made for TV”, which marked the first time that an African American woman was nominated in that category; a NAACP image award for Outstanding TV movie and a NAACP award for Outstanding actress for Angela Bassett’s depiction of Rosa Parks which also earned Ms. Basset an Emmy nomination.
Ms. Dash made history back in 1991 with her seminal film “Daughters of the Dust (DOD)”. This groundbreaking historical epic about the migration of a Gullah family from the Sea Islands to the mainland earned her a place in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, her film being recognized as a national treasure to be preserved and protected. She is the only African American woman inducted into the registry. Twenty-five years later (2016), the film has been digitally restored by Cohen Media group and is currently been screened again across the world. Ms Dash was recently inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as part of its effort to diversify its membership.
Ms Dash’s work always brings to the forefront the stories of black women across the board. Her current project is a documentary about the phenomenal culinary anthropologist Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor a world-renowned author, performer, and chef from rural South Carolina. She is currently the new Time-Warner Visiting Professor in the Department of Media, Journalism and Film at Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications.
About the interview
I watched Julie Dash’s film Daughters of the Dust (D.O.D) in the early 90’s back when I lived in London. I was blown away by the powerful story which spanned generations, spectacular visuals, from the locations to costumes and the educational aspect which informs us of the history of the enslaved people from Africa who have influenced American culture in more ways than is given credit for. My love for history was reignited especially the retention of African culture in the Diaspora and this film amongst other things propelled me to purse a masters in West African studies with a view of making films about African people.
It was a no-brainer to have Ms Dash on Indigo Tongues and in 2016 I set out to locate her. I hit up all my contacts and for about 3 months I was trying to get in touch with her. After looking high and low to no avail, I attended the Black Star film Festival in Philadelphia and was talking to a friend after a screening and alas whom did I see standing in front of me…the Queen herself. I was so taken aback as I was not expecting to see her there. I said out loud “isn’t that Julie Dash” and she heard me, looked my way like, giving me the “do-I-know-you” look. I ran towards her thinking to myself that I could not miss this opportunity and proceeded to spew out everything I could think of. I told how I had been looking for her for the last 3 months (she said she knows); I mentioned Indigo tongues (she said, I watch it); I told her how I moved to America to become a filmmaker partly due to the impact D.O.D had on me (she said well that’s how it should be) and I even told her she was aging well (why I said this I have no idea) and she just smiled. She said she had agreed to do the interview (which I was not aware of) and said we just had to work out the logistics of how to make it happen. I got her personal email address and the rest is her-story. To top it all off, I got to interview her during my birthday month and a day before I travelled to Ghana for my birthday. It was all just so wonderful and divine as always.
We at Indigo Tongues are honored to feature Ms Dash. Bonus pixs below
Interview Date: November 18 2016
Location: Manhattan, New York
Creator & Executive Producer: Mojisola Sonoiki
Co-Producer: Cy Nakpodia
Director: Mojisola Sonoiki
Editor: Gerald Barclay
DP: Alan Tumusiime
Indigo Tongues logo: Blugge