Film fest honors daughter of the borough

Film fest honors daughter of the borough
Courtesy of Julie Dash
By Bill Egbert

The Queens World Film Festival will honor filmmaker Julie Dash with the 2017 Spirit of Queens Award.

The Long Island City native will receive the award in a ceremony at the Museum of the Moving Image on the festival’s opening night on March 14.

Dash’s 1991 masterpiece “Daughters of the Dust” was the first American feature film by an African-American woman to receive a general theatrical release. It was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004.

The indie film told the story of three generations of a Gullah family, descendants of escaped slaves, on an island off the South Carolina coast in 1902 as they prepared to head north in the Great Migration.

Dash earned wide critical acclaim as the writer, director and producer for the film’s rich dialogue and magical-realist imagery. Daughters of the Dust also won the Best Cinematography award at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival.

The film will be screened at the Museum of the Moving Image on March 15, followed by a Q&A with Dash.

QWFF will also screen Dash’s 1982 short film “Illusions,” which takes place in Hollywood during WWII and tells the story of a female studio executive passing for white. The film examines the power of perception and explores the illusions created by Hollywood, as well as the illusion of racial identity. It won the Jury Prize for Best Film of the Decade awarded by the Black Filmmakers Foundation.

Dash’s film studies began in Harlem in 1969 and led her to the American Film Institute and UCLA. There she made “The Diary of an African Nun” in 1977, based on a short story by Alice Walker, winning a student award from the Directors Guild of America.

Dash went on to a career as a filmmaker, music video and commercial director, and author. Her television films include “Love Song,” starring R&B singer Monica Arnold, the romantic thriller “Incognito,” and the domestic drama “Funny Valentines.”

In 2002, Dash was nominated for a Directors Guild Award for “The Rosa Parks Story” starring Angela Bassett. She has also directed music videos for Tony! Toni! Toné!, Keb’ Mo’, Peabo Bryson, Adriana Evans, Sweet Honey in the Rock and Tracy Chapman.

The 7th Annual Queens World Film Festival, running March 14–19 will feature more than 130 films from 25 nations.

The festivities start next week with a kick-off party at the historic Astor Room in Astoria on Jan. 13. The dress code is “Festival Casual.” More details at queensworldfilmfestival.com.