THE WATERMELON WOMAN

MQ Hof 8

Arena 21

Free Entry

USA 1997, 90 min, Feature, OV English
D: Cheryl Dunye
With Cheryl Dunye, Guinevere Turner, Valarie Walker

Director & Script: Cheryl Dunye
DOP: Michelle Crenshaw
Editing: Annie Taylor
Music: Paul Shapiro
Production: Barry Swimar

Philadelphia in the 1990s, Cheryl and Tamara two black lesbian friends in their twenties work in a video store. Cheryl struggles with working on her film and in the course of this she follows the traces of a forgotten black actress from Philly in the 30s, unknown by name and only mentioned as The Watermelon Woman in the credits of various films. Cheryl documents her research and everyday life, roams through archives and seeks out contemporary witnesses. Through encounters and conversations, she approaches The Watermelon Woman and her life, while she herself enters into a love affair with a white customer of the video store and tries to reconcile this with her friendship with Tamara.

 

Foto (c) Cheryl Dunye

Cheryl Dunye's Watermelon Woman was first shown on screen in 1997 and is now considered a milestone in the queer, black film canon. The film has a documentary feel to it, with the filmmaker playing the protagonist of the same name. THE WATERMELON WOMAN concludes, however, with the words "Sometimes you have to create your own history. The Watermelon Woman is fiction." A film that deals with the (in)visibility of black and queer people and realities in canon and archives, in the style of the nineties, humorous and ironic, full of love for cinema, film and video cultures.

 

Frameout curator Djamila Grandits, as part of CineCollective, co-conceived and co-curated the intervention Kaleidoscope 2020. Fragments. based on the absence of the open-air cinema on Vienna's Karlsplatz. Over 22 days, fragments and references to film and cinema cultures were interwoven on billboard, screen and blog. The project can be followed online at www.kaleidoskop.film. THE WATERMELON WOMAN was part of the intervention on June 27, 2020, in the course of which a blog entry with references and further contextualization was created.