The Watermelon Woman
Director: Cheryl Dunye Run Time: 85 min. Format: DCP Release Year: 1996
Starring: Cheryl Clarke, Cheryl Dunye, Guinevere Turner, Lisa Marie Bronson, Valarie Walker
Screenwriter: Cheryl Dunye
Producer: Barry Swimar
Presented by Ify Nwadiwe and with a conversation with Brittani Nichols
Here’s the quintessential video store movie and a fun and feisty queer romantic comedy from groundbreaking filmmaker Cheryl Dunye. A young black lesbian filmmaker — in between stocking video store shelves and flirting with cute customers — probes into the life of the Watermelon Woman, a 1930s black actress who played a number of ‘mammy’ archetypes in early cinema. She begins to see a number of parallels to her own life and her new relationship with a white woman. Dunye manages to create a film that explores potentially divisive ideas of race, gender, and queerness, but never feels didactic or anything less than thoroughly irreverent and entertaining.