Set at the turn of the 20th century on the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, writer-director Julie Dash's 1991 film Daughters Of The Dust explores a culture at a crossroads. The Gullah people, the islands' inhabitants, have carved out a uniquely African-American culture that's in touch with both sides of the hyphenate. Former slaves and their descendants, the Gullah have preserved many African traditions while incorporating those of the New World and its European heritage. Religion, more a syncretic collection of traditions than a single faith, could involve charms against evil spirits as easily as Baptist hymns, and the Gullah culture as a whole reflects this. It's a way of looking at the world that both hearkens back to an ancient malleability and anticipates post-modernism. The greatest strength of the film—which covers one significant day in island history, and in the history of one large family as it makes plans to join life on the mainland—is its ability to portray this culture in almost documentary-like fashion. A rich, fully realized vision, beautifully shot by Arthur Jafa (Crooklyn), Dash's film is one-of-a-kind, and at times that works against it as much as for it. Her exhaustive research has allowed her to re-create Gullah life in remarkable detail, but many of the details, however intriguing, are left unexplained, a fact that makes this new DVD version, and Dash's audio commentary, all the more useful. What may be more difficult for many viewers is the film's non-linear narrative and obtuse characterizations: Dash argues that she tried to structure her film in a way more in touch with African narratives than Western storytelling, but she still could have allowed her characters greater depth and permitted them to serve as something more than icons. Still, it's hard to argue that Daughters Of The Dust's faults outweigh its virtues, and the supplemental features of this packed DVD (deleted scenes, a documentary, interviews) only enhance the experience of a project that works better as an experience than a film.