The Watermelon Woman

Through the Lens of African American Women

An investigation into film history that doubles as a romantic comedy, The Watermelon Woman is a dazzlingly inventive landmark of the New Queer Cinema and the first U.S. feature directed by Cheryl Dunye. A fledgling filmmaker, played by Dunye herself, sets out to make a documentary about Faith Richardson, a lost cinematic ancestor glimpsed in 1930s race films. Playfully switching between 16mm film and a grainy 1990s videotape aesthetic, Dunye intertwines slices of everyday life with black-and-white archival bits about Richardson.

A live Zoom Q&A with filmmaker Cheryl Dunye follows the screening.

Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by 13th Gen, Outfest, the Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation, TIFF, First Run Features, and Yves Averous. 

The MFAH film department is supported by Tenaris; the Vaughn Foundation; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Nina and Michael Zilkha; Consulate General of Italy in Houston; Italian Cultural Institute in Los Angeles; Consulate General of Brazil in Houston; Franci Neely; Carrin Patman and Jim Derrick; Ms. Laurence Unger; L’Alliance Française de Houston; and ILEX Foundation.

The Watermelon Woman

Directed by Cheryl Dunye
(USA, 1996, 90 minutes, in English)
Lynn Wyatt Theater


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