DAWTA (2021) -Trailer from Jessica Ashman on Vimeo.

“I have the same power as you. Let my power guide you forward.”

Dawta tells the story of a young Black woman, running away from a pivotal moment in her family history. Guided by two elders, she discovers a safe, future utopian planet for Black women through a mysterious superpower. Inspired by the artist Jessica Ashman’s own family history of migration and trans-racial fostering, Dawta explores the idea of inherited cycles of trauma within Black women and asks the question: can the energy this trauma brings be harnessed? Can this power be used to discover new dimensions of hope and a future that pushes past the colonial and imperial histories intertwined in Black consciousness?

Inspired by the work of seminal Black science fiction author, Octavia Butler (in particular, her time travelling odyssey, ’Kindred’), Dawta combines experimental animation techniques and live musical performance to create a sci-fi narrative of interdimensional time travel, questioning the possibilities of imagining better futures for the Black diaspora.

This short film is part of a multi-layered project which includes an audio visual performance and EP release from Ashman’s music project, Spirit Sigh

A film by Jessica Ashman, produced by Abigail Addison at Animate Projects, and supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

Music by Spirit Sigh featuring Bimpe Alliu, recorded, mixed and mastered at Marketstall Recordings by Mark Estall.

Film Sound Mixed by Chris Smith at Kluster Rooms

Voice of The Grandmother - Leah Arscott

Additional Animation by Laura. N. Tamara

Colouring Assistance from Leah Morris

Additional Live Action Footage Camera by Leanne Davies and Sameer Shastri

Publications quoted from the archives of the Black Cultural Archives and The Library of Birmingham:

“Black Families Offer Pride and Identity” - Janet Boateng, The Independent, 1989
“Culture Question Mark Over Black Adoption” – West Indian World, 1980
“Reality facing young blacks who are brought up white” - Howard Foster, Daily Express, 1983
“Directory of Homes and Hostels for the Care of Unmarried Mothers and Illegitimate children” by National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child, 1953

Additional quotes from ‘Kindred’ and ‘Parable of the Sower’ by Octavia Butler.

© Jessica Ashman 2021