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The Watermelon Woman (1996)

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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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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



Parents Guide:





Release Date:

5 March 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Arbuziarka  »

Filming Locations:

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Did You Know?


According to writer/director Cheryl Dunye, much about the character she plays in the film is autobiographical, but the historical references to the Watermelon Woman are fictional: "The Watermelon Woman came from the real lack of any information about the lesbian and film history of African-American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


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 Tall, Tan, and Terrific (1946) See more »

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User Reviews

obsession - super sweet!
22 December 2007 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

There are themes and issues in this film that are obvious, but well defined and used - lesbianism, racism, interracial relationships.... and the ups and downs of working in a video rental shop. All that aside, I have to say that, for me "The Watermelon Woman" is all about obsession. Ah - obsession! The obsession in this case is our leading lady's obsession with a marginal black actress in black & white movies of days long gone by, credited in the films on as "The Watermelon Woman." Who was she... what was her real name... why was she someone to obsess upon? Our lovely leading lesbian begins a journey of body and mind to find the truth of the Watermelon Woman and her life. I tell you obsession is a wondrous thing... when you find something (or, if you're me, many things) to obsess on, your life will be filed with the richness of discovery.. and you'll never be a boring party guest. So, have a look at "The Watermelon Woman," who knows you may just find yourself obsessed. Super sweet.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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