Indie Memphis' Black Independence Series Concludes With Daughters of the Dust and Moonlight


Mahershala Ali in Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight.
  • Mahershala Ali in Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight.
Indie Memphis' Black Independence Series saved the best for last. The month-long mini-festival concludes this week with a pair of powerhouse pictures.

The first, screening on Wednesday, October 9th at Malco Ridgeway, is the classic Daughters of the Dust. In 1991, the film won the cinematography award at Sundance Film Festival, and director Julie Dash became the first African-American woman to have her film released wide in the United States. It is a generational portrait of the women of the Gullah culture on the island of Saint Helena in South Carolina, which has preserved pre-slavery West African influences for hundreds of years.

The youngest woman, Yellow Mary (Barbara O) brings her new boyfriend to meet the family, causing a rift between her and matriarch Nana Peazant (Cora Lee Day), who is dead set on staying on the island and preserving the culture. The film is a dense, nonlinear, cinematic masterpiece that Beyonce has cited as a major visual influence on her Lemonade music video album.

Recently, I was talking to my wife about the necessity of compiling a Best Movies of the 2010s list in December. We both agreed that Moonlight would have to be somewhere near the top. Barry Jenkins' 2016 Best Picture winner's list of accolades is so long it has its own separate Wikipedia page. After my first viewing, I talked about that crossfade shot that drew gasps in the theater for weeks to anyone who would listen. If you've seen the movie, you know which one I'm talking about.

If you haven't seen it, here's your chance to catch up in a unique venue—outdoors on the banks of the Mississippi at the River Garden on Riverside Drive. The show will start at 7:00 p.m., and will be proceeded at 5:30 by a DJ set from Kid Maestro. The screening and concert are free, so you have no excuses to miss one of the great cinematic masterworks of the twenty-first century.

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