Today we encounter perhaps the most difficult entry of the series. While "important" and "palatable" are not always mutually exclusive descriptors, there's no denying the cultural significance of writer-director Julie Dash's hypnotic and elliptical 1991 debut feature Daughters of the Dust, which apparently was the first nationally released film by a black female director. In 2004, the Library of Congress' National Film Registry accepted it in its canon. Its distributor, Kino International, has a close relationship with Janus and thus is similar to the Criterion Collection in its commitment to film restoration and definitive DVD packaging. However, it's a slippery movie to review, not the least of which because this critic is a white woman with a shaky grasp on the folkloric traditions represented and referenced herein.
Jim McKay's 1996 feature Girls Town came out at an interesting time. It was released a few years after riot grrrl was co-opted by the mainstream and Sassy folded, but a year before Spin Magazine attempted to capitalize on a cultural moment with their problematic Girl Issue and Alex Sichel's coming-of-age drama All Over Me received a limited theatrical release. It made its stateside cinematic debut two days before Annette Haywood-Carter's Foxfire, an adaptation of Joyce Carrol Oates' novel that also focused on a teenage girl gang, which helped launch Angelina Jolie's career, attempted to do the same for Calvin Klein model Jenny Shimizu, and represented a liminal period for former child actress and Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis. While Foxfire is better-known, I'd argue that Girls Town evinces more progressive gender and racial politics.