Spelman Appoints Film Pioneer Julie Dash as Faculty

By Free Radical

Julie Dash

Film Pioneer, Julie Dash

According to hollywoodblackrenaissance.com, Spelman College recently appointed renowned movie director Julie Dash as a Distinguished Professor in the Arts starting this fall.

Dash is most well known for her groundbreaking film, Daughters of the Dust, which tells the story of a South Carolina Gullah community that has to navigate ways to hold on to their ancestral traditions while also preapring themselves for the rigors of a move to the industrial North.

The movie unabashedly uses Gullah dialect (which draws heavily from West African languages and culture) and was named one of the most important cinematic achievements in Black Cinema at the 25th Annual Newark Black Film Festival in 1999. More recently, in 2004, it was selected among 400 other films to be added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry as a National Treasure.

Dash will make an appropriate fit for Spelman College as the Atlanta-based all-women’s college is one of the few HBCUs (or colleges of its size) that offers a degree in film. In 2004, award-winning filmmaker Ayoka Chenzira created the Digital Moving Image Salon (DMIS) to instruct students on how to create their own movies. Since their founding, they have created the Reel Women Film Showcase, which has featured prominent Black women in film for screenings and panel discussions open to the general public.

Spelman has also created a documentary filmmaking major, to, according to their website, cultivate a “generation of Black women documentary filmmakers who see the world through their histories and interests.”

The appointment of Dash and the development of Spelman’s film program is extremely timely as Atlanta has been dubbed the new “Black Hollywood” by some. According to FilmL.A., Georgia has become the number one filming location in the world, having produced the most films in 2016. The various film and television shows produced in Georgia is estimated to to generate $9.5 billion to the state in 2017.

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