The Watermelon Woman (Rio Player)15

The Watermelon Woman (Rio Player)

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  • Wed 9 Dec
  • 90 minutes
  • Director: Cheryl Dunye
  • Cast: Cheryl Dunye as Cheryl. Guinevere Turner as Diana. Valarie Walker as Tamara. Lisa Marie Bronson as Fae 'The Watermelon Woman'
  • USA (1996)

Synopsis

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The Watermelon Woman: The Enduring Cool of a Black Lesbian Classic



In 1996, Cheryl Dunye—the writer, actor, and filmmaker—released The Watermelon Woman, a seminal work of autofiction in which a young Black lesbian filmmaker named Cheryl (played by Dunye) searches for the identity of a beautiful Black actress who played a mammy character in a 1930s drama. In the credits, the mysterious actress is listed only as “The Watermelon Woman,” complicating Cheryl’s mission.


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