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The Watermelon Woman (1996)The Watermelon Woman (1996)

The Watermelon Woman (1996)

This groundbreaking classic of New Queer Cinema is as funny as it is incisive.

Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.9

movie

United States of America

English

Funny, Grown-up Comedy, Slice-of-Life

1996

Cheryl Dunye, Female director

Brian Freeman, Cheryl Clarke, David Rakoff

85 min

Synopsis

An aspiring black lesbian filmmaker researches an obscure 1940s black actress billed as the Watermelon Woman.

Our Take

7.9
Igor Fishman

This drama was the first feature written and directed by an out Black lesbian, Cheryl Dunye, and it is an absolute joy: a cheeky faux-documentary that ingeniously blends lesbian dating life with a historical dive into Black actors in 30s Hollywood.

Dunye plays Cheryl, a self-effacing version of herself, an aspiring director working at a video store who begins to research an actress known as the Watermelon Woman for a documentary. The more Cheryl dives into her research, the more she sees parallels between her subject and her own relationship. 

As incisive as it is funny, The Watermelon Woman shares some common ground with other major indie debuts of the era like Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It and funnily enough Kevin Smith’s Clerks, but Dunye’s style is wholly her own and a dazzling treat to experience.

 

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