The Watermelon Woman (1996)

 |  Drama  |  5 March 1997 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.2/10 from 463 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 16 critic

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 »



0Check in

Watch Now

$0.00 with Prime Video

2 wins. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Go Fish (1994)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Max is a trendy, pretty, young lesbian, who is having trouble finding love. A friend sets her up with Ely, whom Max likes, but Ely is frumpy, homely, and older. Nor do they have much in ... See full summary »

Director: Rose Troche
Stars: V.S. Brodie, Guinevere Turner, T. Wendy McMillan
The Owls (2010)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

Two middle-aged, lesbian couples accidentally kill a younger lesbian and hide the body, without reporting it to the authorities. Their guilt and long-kept, dark secret comes back to haunt ... See full summary »

Director: Cheryl Dunye
Stars: Deak Evgenikos, Guinevere Turner, V.S. Brodie
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Stan works in drudgery at a slaughterhouse. His personal life is drab. Dissatisfaction and ennui keep him unresponsive to the needs of his adoring wife, and he must struggle against ... See full summary »

Director: Charles Burnett
Stars: Henry G. Sanders, Kaycee Moore, Charles Bracy
Stranger Inside (TV Movie 2001)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A mother daughter reunion set in the harsh reality of a women's correctional facility

Director: Cheryl Dunye
Stars: Yolonda Ross, Davenia McFadden, Rain Phoenix
Elephant (TV Short 1989)
Short | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A depiction of a series of violent killings in Northern Ireland with no clue as to exactly who is responsible.

Director: Alan Clarke
Stars: Gary Walker, Bill Hamilton, Michael Foyle
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Set ten years after the most peaceful revolution in United States history, a revolution in which a socialist government gains power, this films presents a dystopia in which the issues of ... See full summary »

Director: Lizzie Borden
Stars: Honey, Adele Bertei, Jean Satterfield
Blonde Venus (1932)
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A cabaret singer takes up with a millionaire to pay for her gravely ill husband's operation.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, Herbert Marshall
Pariah I (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.

Director: Dee Rees
Stars: Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans, Aasha Davis
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A lonely widowed housewife does her daily chores, takes care of her apartment where she lives with her teenage son, and turns the occasional trick to make ends meet. However, something happens that changes her safe routine.

Director: Chantal Akerman
Stars: Delphine Seyrig, Jan Decorte, Henri Storck
Comedy | Romance | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A factory manager in rural Czechoslovakia bargains with the army to send men to the area, to boost the morale of his young female workers, deprived of male company since the local boys have... See full summary »

Director: Milos Forman
Stars: Hana Brejchová, Vladimír Pucholt, Vladimír Mensík
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Valencia is a collaboration between a national community of queer filmmakers to adapt the underground classic memoir into a kaleidoscopic vision of San Francisco's Mission District in the ... See full summary »

Directors: Peter Anthony, Sharon Barnes, and 18 more credits »
Stars: Shawna Elizabeth, Annie Danger, Tanya Wischerath
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

Pioneer filmmaker Cheryl Dunye returns with a sassy, raunchy, romantic sex comedy set in the edgy underground of Berlin where love and taboo affairs collide! Cute power femme Dylan (Lil ... See full summary »

Director: Cheryl Dunye
Stars: Lil Harlow, Papi Coxx, Maggie Tapert


Credited cast:
Cheryl Dunye ...
Valarie Walker ...
Lisa Marie Bronson ...
Fae 'The Watermelon Woman' Richards
Cheryl Clarke ...
June Walker
Irene Dunye ...
Brian Freeman ...
Lee Edwards
Camille Paglia ...
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 ...
K. Brent Hill ...
J.J. Liberty


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



Parents Guide:





Release Date:

5 March 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Arbuziarka  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



See  »

Did You Know?


The scene from the faux-archival 1930s film, "Plantation Memories", was directed by Douglas McKeown and co-written by McKeown and Cheryl Dunye See more »


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 »


References Watermelon Man (1970) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

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.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Are there any.....? Cookiecrumb444
Who Is Cheryl Dunye? lovejam
Time Line amy-672
Discuss The Watermelon Woman (1996) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: