New Restoration of Cheryl Dunye's 'The Watermelon Woman' Set for 20th Anniversary Revival Run Beginning Nov. 10
Photo Credit: First Run Features

New Restoration of Cheryl Dunye's 'The Watermelon Woman' Set for 20th Anniversary Revival Run Beginning Nov. 10

First Run Features
First Run Features

First Run Features has announced the re-release of Cheryl Dunye’s landmark black queer film “The Watermelon Woman.”

Now remastered for its 20th Anniversary, with Pristine 2K HD Restoration overseen by 13 Gen, “The Watermelon Woman” will screen at Metrograph in New York beginning Thursday, November 10, 2016. Following an international run on the LGBT festival circuit, the film is connecting with a lively new generation of fans worldwide. First Run Features will then re-release the film on DVD and VOD January 31, 2017.

Set in Philadelphia, “The Watermelon Woman” is the story of Cheryl (Cheryl Dunye), a twenty-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’ life, Cheryl experiences a total upheaval in her personal life. 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.

According to director Dunye, much about the character is autobiographical, but the historical references to the Watermelon Woman are fictional: “The idea came from the real lack of information about the lesbian and film history of African American women. Since it wasn’t happening, I invented it.”

“The Watermelon Woman” features cameo performances by notable LGBT figures including cultural critic Camille Paglia, African American singer/songwriter Toshi Reagan, Pomo Afro Homo performer Brian Freeman, African American poet Cheryl Clark and novelist/activist Sarah Schulman.

Cheryl Dunye’s most recent film “Black is Blue,” which won awards at five major festivals, explored the everyday racism and transphobic experiences in the lives of trans black men. Her feature film “Mommy is Coming” continues to win international awards. “The Owls” was celebrated at festivals in 2010 and “My Baby’s Daddy” was a national box office success, distributed by Miramax. Dunye directed “Stranger Inside” for HBO, which garnered her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best director in 2002. Dunye’s other works have been screened at the Whitney Biennial and festivals throughout the world. A native of Liberia, Dunye studied at Temple University and Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts. Now based in Oakland, Dunye is Assistant Professor in the Department of Cinema at San Francisco State University.

Watch an original trailer for “Watermelon Woman” below:




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