Julie Dash’s “Illusions” Added to the National Film Registry

The NYWIFT Women’s Film Preservation Fund is proud to announce that Illusions, directed by NYWIFT member Julie Dash, will be preserved by The Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. Every year the film registry preserves twenty-five films that showcase the range and diversity of American film heritage.

Illusions was preserved in 2009 with support from a WFPF grant to Women Make Movies and is available to stream on The Criterion Channel. Watch it now.

NYWIFT screened Illusions as part of our NYWIFT Member Screening series in November 2020. Watch the Q&A here

Illusions is one of more than 100 projects by women preserved by the NYWIFT Women’s Film Preservation Fund. Learn more about the Fund here


Written, Directed and Produced by Julie Dash
1982, 36 min

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.

Twenty-nine years ago, filmmaker Julie Dash broke through racial and gender boundaries with her Sundance award-winning film (Best Cinematography) Daughters of the Dust, and she became the first African American woman to have a wide theatrical release of her feature film. In 2004, The Library of Congress placed Daughters of the Dust in the National Film Registry where it joins a select group of American films preserved and protected as national treasures by the Library of Congress. Dash is the recent recipient of the Special Award at the 82nd New York Film Critics Circle, the 2017 Women & Hollywood Trailblazer Award, the 2017 NYWIFT Muse Award, The Ebert Award, and she was inducted into the Penn Cultural Center’s 1862 Circle on St. Helena Island. Dash directed multiple episodes of the award-winning dramatic series, Queen Sugar, Season 2; and she hosted The Golden Years, a limited series for Turner Classic Movies. Dash was a Filmmaker’s Lab Governor at the Toronto International Film Festival; and screened at the Smithsonian’s First African American Film Festival. She has written and directed for CBS, BET, ENCORE STARZ, SHOWTIME, MTV Movies, HBO, and OWN Television. Dash has been attached to direct the upcoming Lionsgate Entertainment bio pic on the scholar and activist Angela Davis. She has several documentary projects in the works, including Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl, a feature length documentary in-progress about Vertamae Smart Grosvenor, a world-renowned author, performer, and chef from rural South Carolina who has led a remarkably unique and complex life.