6.4/10
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11 user 25 critic

The Watermelon Woman (1996)

Unrated | | Drama | 5 March 1997 (USA)
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 »

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Cast

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

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated

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5 March 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Arbuziarka  »

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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According to writer/director Cheryl Dunye, much about the character she plays in the film is autobiographical, but the historical references to the Watermelon Woman are fictional: "The Watermelon Woman came from the real lack of any information about the lesbian and film history of African-American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 »

Connections

References Watermelon Man (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Time does fly, and people do change.
25 July 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a very lighthearted film about a black video store clerk (Cheryl Dunye) who wants to make a documentary about an early black actress, known only as The Watermelon Woman." The fact that both Cheryl (Dunye) and the actress are lesbians keeps her going. In fact, in life imitating art, Cheryl finds that The Watermelon Woman was having a lesbian relationship with a white director, and then, she begins a relationship with a white video store customer (Guinevere Turner - American Psycho, Itty Bitty Titty Committee).

The film explored black language, early black actresses, black lesbians, mammies, and watermelon. It even featured an interview with Camille Paglia discussing mammies and watermelon in the context of blacks and Italians, It's nice to see Italians spoken of in something other than the Mob.

Her BFF Tamera (Valarie Walker) is a party girl, but she draws the line at interracial relationships, and that causes a problem for Cheryl.

There are a lot of good scenes throughout the movie, and it made it worthwhile even if the acting wasn't particularly good.

The end credits will surprise you.


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