6.5/10
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11 user 27 critic

The Watermelon Woman (1996)

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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 »

Director:

Cheryl Dunye

Writer:

Cheryl Dunye
2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

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

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 March 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Arbuziarka See more »

Filming Locations:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Dancing Girl See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

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 »

Alternate Versions

In 2016, director Cheryl Dunye's landmark Black Queer Film THE WATERMELON WOMAN was re-released in select theaters and festivals with a pristine 2K HD restoration overseen by the production company 13th Gen, in partnership with Modern Videofilm. The restoration and re-release was sponsored by First Run Features, the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, and the Toronto International Film Festival. This theatrical tour will be followed by a DVD re-release in early 2017. See more »

Connections

References Gone Harlem (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Time does fly, and people do change.
25 July 2009 | by lastliberalSee 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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