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Tue, Feb 28 at 3:30pm, 8:00pm


  • Dir. Cheryl Dunye
  • USA
  • 1996
  • 90 min.
  • NR
  • New DCP Restoration
  • Assistive Listening
  • Hearing Loop

Part of Beloved: A Spotlight Series on Black Female Directors

Tue, Feb 28 at 8:00pm: Post-screening discussion with Black queer creatives DJ Afrosheen, Melissa Gordon, and Desirée Duncan, moderated by Belcourt staff member Sheronica Hayes, who programmed the Beloved series | BUY TICKETS

Set in Philadelphia, THE WATERMELON WOMAN is the story of Cheryl (Cheryl Dunye), a 20-something Black lesbian struggling to make a documentary about Fae Richards, a beautiful and elusive 1930s Black film actress popularly known as “The Watermelon Woman.” While uncovering the meaning of Fae Richards’s life, Cheryl experiences a total upheaval in her own. Her love affair with Diana (Guinevere Turner, GO FISH), a beautiful white woman, and her interactions with the gay and black communities, are subject to the comic yet biting criticism of her best friend Tamara (Valerie Walker). Meanwhile, each answer Cheryl discovers about the Watermelon Woman evokes a flurry of new questions about herself and her future. (Synopsis from The Metrograph)

Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and 13th Gen.

“Funny and smart, full of biting humor and astute observations about identity and history, Cheryl Dunye's audacious, joyous debut feature captures the process of falling hopelessly in love with the movies.” —Serena Donadoni, Village Voice

“A film of such multitudinous interests and storytelling pursuits that its unfolding replicates the ecstasy of newfound romance….It’s the combination of past and present — a cinematic stabilization of historical necessity and contemporary lesbian romance — that gives the film its singular identity.” —Clayton Dillard, Slate

“Both stimulating and funny…. A testament to the talent and open-heartedness of Ms. Dunye, who wrote and directed the movie and is its star…. It lets you find your own way to its central message about cultural history and the invisibility of those shunted to the margins.” —Stephen Holden, New York Times