Illusions

A film by Julie Dash

1983 | 34 minutes | BW | 16mm/DVD | Order No. 99306

This critically acclaimed drama from filmmaker Julie Dash (DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST) takes place in 1942 at a fictitious Hollywood motion picture studio.

SYNOPSIS

The time is 1942, a year after Pearl Harbor; the place is National Studios, a fictitious Hollywood motion picture studio. Mignon Duprée, a Black woman studio executive who appears to be white and Ester Jeeter, an African American woman who is the singing voice for a white Hollywood star are forced to come to grips with a society that perpetuates false images as status quo. This highly-acclaimed drama by one of the leading African American women directors follows Mignon's dilemma, Ester's struggle and the use of cinema in wartime Hollywood: three illusions in conflict with reality.

From the director of the critically acclaimed DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST.

PRESS

"Mckee’s strong performance and growing awareness throughout the film makes it both dramatically satisfying and also richly nuanced with issues of cultural appropriation and cooptation of black music and culture for commercial gain… The film’s relevance to some of today’s mainstream film and music industries and the dismissal and appropriation of black stories is also telling."

IndieWire

“Illusion beats with a strong feminist heart: in the film Mignon Dupree learns to reject the Hollywood model but also to create her own.”

Anne Christine D’Adesky The Guardian

"One of the most brilliant achievements in style and concept in recent American filmmaking..."

Clyde Taylor Guest Curator Whitney Museum of Art

"Cleverly uses film itself as a metaphor for the myths fostered by whites and men about Blacks and women."

Marcia Pally Village Voice

SCREENING HIGHLIGHTS AND AWARDS

  • Maysles Cinema

ABOUT FILMMAKER(S)

Julie Dash

Dash began her study of film in 1969 at the Studio Museum of Harlem’s Cinematography Workshop, with a special interest in foreign film. She was then accepted into film school at the Leonard Davis Center for the Performing Arts, where she wrote and produced a promotional documentary for the New York Urban Coalition called Working Models for Success. After Dash graduated, she moved to Los Angeles and attended the Center for Advanced Film Studies and the American Film Institute. In 1975, Dash directed Four Women, a “choreopoem” based on the song of the same title by singer Nina Simone. In 1977, Dash directed the film, Diary of an African Nun, which was shown at the Los Angeles Film Exposition and won her a Director’s Guild Award for student filmmaking.

In 1983, Dash directed Illusions, a short film about a young African American woman passing for a white executive assistant in 1940s Hollywood. The film won her the 1989 Jury’s prize for Best Film of the Decade by the Black Filmmaker Foundation.

In 1999, the 25th annual Newark Black Film Festival honored Daughters of the Dust as being one of the most important cinematic achievements in black cinema in the 20th century.

Dash's novel, Daughters of the Dust was published by Dutton Books in 1997. The novel is the continuing story of the Peazant family from the movie, and Dash wanted to have the novel titled Geechee Recollections. When going to press, however, the publisher chose to go with the well-known title from the original movie.

Dash has directed music videos, television commercial spots, shorts, and long form movies for cable and network television including the NAACP award-winning CBS network television movie, The Rosa Parks Story, Funny Valentines, Love Song, Incognito and “Sax Cantor Riff,” a segment of HBO’s SUBWAY Stories: Tales from the Underground. She has directed music videos for music artists including Raphael Saadiq; Tony, Toni, Tone; Keb ‘Mo; Peabo Bryson; Adriana Evans; Sweet Honey in the Rock; and Tracey Chapman’s “Give Me One More Reason.” Dash directed multiple episodes of the award-winning dramatic series, Queen Sugar, Season 2, created and produced by Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey, for OWN Television; and she hosted The Golden Years, a limited series for Turner Classic Movies. (10/20)

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