Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Watermelon Woman

1996 American Feature

Cast: Cheryl Dunye, Guinevere Turner, Valarie Walker, Lisa Marie Bronson and Cheryl Clarke
Writer/Director: Cheryl Dunye

While working on a documentary about the "Watermelon Woman", a black actress from the 1930s known for playing the stereotypical "mammy" roles, aspiring filmmaker Cheryl begins a relationship with a white woman.


  • Internet Movie Database: 6.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes - Critics: 100% / Audience: 46%

  • DVD: Available


  • Berlin International Film Festival Teddy Award for Best Feature Film.
  • L.A. Outfest Audience Award for Outstanding Narrative Feature.

  • The first feature film directed by a black lesbian.
  • Cheryl Dunye's feature film debut as writer and director.
  • According to Cheryl Dunye, much about the character she plays in the film is autobiographical, but the historical references to the Watermelon Woman are fictional: "The Watermelon Woman came from the real lack of any information about the lesbian and film history of African-American women. Since it wasn't happening, I invented it."
  • Feminist icon Camille Paglia cameos as herself.
  • The filmmakers received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which caused criticism from conservative sources over the NEA's funding of projects (mainly from gay, minority or female recipients) that "a majority of Americans would find offensive".

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