Black Independents, Vol. 1, February 2020

The Watermelon Woman

Opens Feb 11, 2020

TUES, FEB 11 & THURS, FEB 13 at 7 PM

A tongue-in-cheek documentary-style survey of black and white lesbian culture, tropes, and the rifts between them. Cheryl and her best friend Tamara work at a video store in Philly scoping out chicks and ordering porn under unsuspecting customers' accounts, for research. On the side, they work weddings and spoken-word gigs to make extra cash, which Cheryl uses to fund her first film. Hilarious and disarmingly self-aware, the audience follows along as she hits the pavement; conducting woman-on-the-street interviews, visiting the homes of elders, and thumbing through the C.L.I.T. archive in order to find the eponymous "Watermelon Woman," an actress in early race films who played mammys, maids, and mobsters but was forgotten to Hollywood. Offering sly commentary on interracial dating, butch–femme dynamics, and white academia; Dunye points to the power and perils of a single historical canon with her own subversive contribution.

—Jeanelle Augustin



"A landmark of New Queer Cinema and the first feature film directed by an African American lesbian. With biting humor and a sharp eye towards hidden histories, the film deftly captures the search for identity and how we, in turn, preserve and share history, from the stories told by our selves, families, and communities, to those produced by Hollywood and culture writ large."

—Interview Magazine

"More than a time capsule. Funny and smart, full of astute observations about identity and history, Cheryl Dunye's audacious, joyous debut feature captures the process of falling hopelessly in love with the movies." —Village Voice