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The Watermelon Woman (1996)

 -  Drama  -  5 March 1997 (USA)
6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 407 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 15 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 »

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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 | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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According to writer/director Cheryl Dunye, much about the character she plays in the film is autobiographical, but the historical references to the Watermelon Woman are fictional: "The Watermelon Woman came from the real lack of any information about the lesbian and film history of African-American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

Featured in Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not On Any Syrup Bottle
10 December 2002 | by (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) – See all my reviews

There are hundreds upon thousands of lesbian movies, and the majority are labelled "Adult". Name one lesbian movie about black women that isn't pornographic? Watching this one was something I could relate to. Finally, a movie touching on black history, interracial attraction, stereotypes, and the fictional day-in-the-life of an aspiring film-maker. More original than most, speaking as a black woman. Excuse the bad technology, and you've got a story about a woman researching her black history and getting laid in the process! Maybe she couldn't get the rights to do "The Aunt Jemima Story". You know, that black maid who's face stared back at you from the pancake box, having gone through a few make-overs through the years? There's even a scene where Cheryl holds up movie stills of black actresses playing the usual slave/maid who become unknowns in the process. Well, this is one important movie for me, and I hope more people appreciate this as they listen to Cheryl's closing monologue. Now this movie deserves a remake!

6/10


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