2019 Women Filmmakers Festival at SAAM: Visionaries, Then and Now

March 30, 2019

An image of three figures
Still from Daughters of the Dust, 1991. Image courtesy of Cohen Media Group.

SAAM debuted its annual Women Filmmakers Festival in 2019, highlighting the groundbreaking work of women film directors across time, space, and creative contexts. As part of Women’s History Month programming, the museum featured cinematic visionaries such as Alice Guy Blaché, Lois Weber, Julie Dash, and more. The day started with shorts by groundbreaking directors of early cinema, continued with two Vietnamese American artists’ visions of diaspora, and concluded with an evening feature-length film, Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (1991). This screening was framed by leading cultural historian, critic, and Black studies scholar, Christina Sharpe, who highlighted the film’s artistry, its significance as the first directorial effort by a woman of color to receive national theatrical distribution, and its connection to artists represented in SAAM’s collection—Kerry James Marshall, who served as production designer, and Arthur Jafa, who served as cinematographer.

Women Filmmakers Festival at SAAM: Visionaries, Then and Now was supported by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative.

A logo for the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative

March 30, 2019

Noon, First Women Filmmakers

Screening selections from the Kino Lorber collection Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers

  • Falling Leaves. Directed by Alice Guy Blaché. Not Rated (11 minutes; 1912)
  • Suspense. Directed by Lois Weber. Not Rated (11 minutes; 1913)
  • When Little Lindy Sang. Directed by Lule Warrenton. Not Rated (10 minutes.; 1916)
  • Fieldwork Footage. Directed by Zora Neale Hurston. Not Rated (8 minutes; 1929)
  • Motherhood: Life’s Greatest Miracle. Directed by Lita Lawrence (59 minutes; 1925)

Post screening conversation with Cynthia Fuchs, director of film and media studies, George Mason University and Lynanne Schweighofer, preservation specialist in the moving image section of the Library of Congress; moderated by Saisha Grayson, curator of time-based media at SAAM.

3:00 p.m. Envisioning Diaspora

  • Surname Viet Given Name Nam. Directed by Trinh T. Minh-ha. Not Rated (108 minutes; 1989)
  • The great simplicity thousands of years before and after. Directed by Tiffany Chung. Not Rated (10 minutes; 2012).

Post screening conversation with Saisha Grayson, curator of time-based media at SAAM, and Yu-Min (Claire) Chen, assistant professor of international languages and cultures, Asian studies, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

6:30 p.m. Daughters of the Dust, Revisited

  • Daughters of the Dust. Directed by Julie Dash. Rated PG (112 minutes; 1991)

Post screening conversation with Saisha Grayson, curator of time-based media; Christina Sharpe, professor in the department of humanities, York University, Toronto; and; Martha Jackson Jarvis, artist.