Watch the full film on the
Welcome to Fandor. Watch thousands of award-winning films online. ×
Click here to take a look at our newly redesigned movie page.

The Watermelon Woman1997

  • 4.0
  • passes the bechdel test
Cheryl Dunye's debut feature is as controversial as it is sexy and funny. Cheryl is a twenty-something black lesbian working as a clerk in a video store while struggling to make a documentary about Fae Richards, an obscure black actress from the 1930's. Cheryl is surprised to discover that Richards (known popularly as "the Watermelon Woman") had a white lesbian lover. At the same time, Cheryl falls in love with a very cute white customer at the video store (Guinevere Turner from GO FISH). Such are the complexities of race and sex in this startlingly fresh debut, which has been attacked by conservative Congressmen for having been funded by the NEA and lavishingly praised in the editorial pages for being charming and courageous.

Copy embed code

×

What makes this film worth watching? See All Reviews

4 members like this review

"Sometimes you have to make your own history," Cheryl reminds us through an intertitle at the end of this film, informing us that the Waltermelon Woman was not a real person. In making this film Cheryl did in fact make history, as its importance as being one of the few feature films written and directed by a Black lesbian is undeniable. The film is rough and its scene-to-scene transitions are uneasy, but it is its videotaped authenticity that gives it a certain intimate charm... that, and its authorial candor as it documents the filmmaker's desire to find her place in the history of American cinema. By the end, it does not matter that the place she finds is of her own creative invention. There very well could have been a Fae Richards, white-washed and straight-washed out of existence by the dominant historical narrative. Even if there wasn't, this film is a bold assertion of the Black lesbian cinematic voice and vision. Rough and low-budget as it is, the film is far more interesting than most any heteropatriarchal white supremacist crap that comes out of Hollywood. My only hope is that more filmmakers who have been historically silenced and shut out will take inspiration from Cheryl's refreshingly honest and enjoyable work.

Dfc62203a2f07425098547216a647b91?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0018
top reviewer

Member Reviews (6)

Dfc62203a2f07425098547216a647b91?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0018
top reviewer

"Sometimes you have to make your own history," Cheryl reminds us through an intertitle at the end of this film, informing us that the Waltermelon Woman was not a real person. In making this film Cheryl did in fact make history, as its importance as being one of the few feature films written and directed by a Black lesbian is undeniable. The film is rough and its scene-to-scene transitions are uneasy, but it is its videotaped authenticity that gives it a certain intimate charm... that, and its authorial candor as it documents the filmmaker's desire to find her place in the history of American cinema. By the end, it does not matter that the place she finds is of her own creative invention. There very well could have been a Fae Richards, white-washed and straight-washed out of existence by the dominant historical narrative. Even if there wasn't, this film is a bold assertion of the Black lesbian cinematic voice and vision. Rough and low-budget as it is, the film is far more interesting than most any heteropatriarchal white supremacist crap that comes out of Hollywood. My only hope is that more filmmakers who have been historically silenced and shut out will take inspiration from Cheryl's refreshingly honest and enjoyable work.

4 members like this review

spoiler alert, hello!

Many assert that The Watermelon Woman is the first feature film ever to be written and directed by a black, lesbian woman. Whether this is true or not, its importance and impact --both as a work of film and a greater study of the implications of intersectionality in a modern society -- is undeniable.

2 members like this review

lovely blend of art and life, and awareness of the fact that history isn't always real, written as it usually is by the victors of whatever war took place to make the event memorable.

Great, great, great to have the work of an African American queer filmmaker available. Good job, Cheryl.

Great movie on the spotty historical record of queer/lesbian interracial relationships in film. A gem!

Entertqining and interesting portraying an era gone bye!