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The Watermelon Woman (A Female Direction)

The Watermelon Woman (A Female Direction)


Direction Cheryl Dunye
Lenght 90 Min
Genre romantic comedy-drama
Cast Cheryl Dunye, Guinevere Turner, Valerie Walker
Country US
Language English
Subtitles English

In this second edition of A Female Direction we will screen the highly acclaimed The Watermelon Woman (1996). Prior to the screening, our curator will give a talk about the powerful director Cheryl Dunye, whose works explore themes such as black lesbianism, queerness and identity politics.

The Watermelon Woman tells the story of Cheryl, a 25-year-old filmmaker (played by the director herself). Cheryl spends many of her days alongside her best friend Tamara (Valarie Walker) in Philadelphia as a video store clerk while moonlighting as an independent filmmaker. Desiring to make a film but without a subject, she stumbles upon the story of a mysterious Black actress from the 30s and 40s, credited only as "The Watermelon Woman." Voracious interest leads Cheryl to discover the name of the (fictional) actress — Fae Richards — and her relationship with a famed director of her time, a white woman named Martha Page.

Dunye’s mock-documentary not only calls attention to the subjective and fabricated nature of documentary film and other factual discourses, but also points out that the contemporary black lesbian’s relationship to the past is as much an imaginary as a real one.