6.7/10
886
11 user 29 critic

The Watermelon Woman (1996)

Unrated | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 5 March 1997 (USA)
Clip
2:43 | Clip
Cheryl is young, Black, and lesbian, working in Philadelphia with her best friend Tamara and consumed by a film project: to make a video about her search for a Black actress from Philly who... See full summary »

Director:

Cheryl Dunye

Writer:

Cheryl Dunye
2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Cheryl Dunye ... Cheryl
Guinevere Turner ... Diana
Valarie Walker Valarie Walker ... Tamara
Lisa Marie Bronson Lisa Marie Bronson ... Fae 'The Watermelon Woman' Richards
Cheryl Clarke Cheryl Clarke ... June Walker
Irene Dunye Irene Dunye ... Herself
Brian Freeman Brian Freeman ... Lee Edwards
Camille Paglia Camille Paglia ... Herself
Sarah Schulman Sarah Schulman ... CLIT Archivist
V.S. Brodie V.S. Brodie ... Karaoke Singer
Shelley Olivier Shelley Olivier ... Annie Heath
Toshi Reagon Toshi Reagon ... Street Magician
Emmy Collins ... Video Browser
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mickey Goldhaber Mickey Goldhaber ... Featured
K. Brent Hill K. Brent Hill ... J.J. Liberty
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Storyline

Cheryl is young, Black, and lesbian, working in Philadelphia with her best friend Tamara and consumed by a film project: to make a video about her search for a Black actress from Philly who appeared in films in the 30s and was known as the Watermelon Woman. Following various leads, Cheryl discovers the Watermelon Woman's stage name and real name and surmises that the actress had a long affair with Martha Page, a White woman and one of Hollywood's few female directors. As she's discovering these things, Cheryl becomes involved with Diana, who's also White. The affair strains Cheryl's friendship with Tamara. More discoveries bring Cheryl (and us, her audience) to new realizations. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 March 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Arbuziarka See more »

Filming Locations:

Pennsylvania, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$774, 13 November 2016

Gross USA:

$1,989

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,989
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Dancing Girl See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to writer/director 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." See more »

Quotes

Cheryl: Hey! Hey, you're Martin Pumphrey!
Street Magician: No ma'am, I'm a magician.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film, which seems to be a documentary about Cheryl's search for the obscure actress who inspired her, ends with these printed words: "Sometimes you have to create your own history. The Watermelon Woman is fiction. Cheryl Dunye, 1996" See more »

Alternate Versions

In 2016, director Cheryl Dunye's landmark Black Queer Film THE WATERMELON WOMAN was re-released in select theaters and festivals with a pristine 2K HD restoration overseen by the production company 13th Gen, in partnership with Modern Videofilm. The restoration and re-release was sponsored by First Run Features, the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, and the Toronto International Film Festival. This theatrical tour will be followed by a DVD re-release in early 2017. See more »

Connections

References Watermelon Man (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

 
An interesting movie, but difficult to review
23 February 2019 | by Red-125See all my reviews

The Watermelon Woman (1996) was written and directed by Cheryl Dunye. Dunye also stars. The film introduction included the information that this was the first movie to be directed by an openly lesbian Black director.

We learned that Dunye was a film student who wanted to make a documentary about Black women in 1930's movies. Except for movies made for Black audiences, Black women were invariably cast as servants or slaves. Very often their names didn't appear in the movie credits.

Rather than actually doing the documentary, Dunye made a narrative film about a woman (herself) trying to make the documentary. It sounds strange, but it makes sense when you're watching it.

We saw the movie at Rochester's wonderful Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman Museum. It will work well enough on the small screen. It's not a movie for everyone, but it's an important film, and worth seeing.


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