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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Racism > Lesbian > Independent Cinema > Gay > The Watermelon Woman: 20th Anniversary Restored Edition (1987/First Run DVD)

The Watermelon Woman: 20th Anniversary Restored Edition (1987/First Run DVD)

Picture: C- Sound: C Extras: D Film: C+

Cheryl Dunye is a black lesbian filmmaker who is interested in a black actress from the 1930's know only as the 'Watermelon Woman'. Who was she? As she researches the Watermelon Woman she confirms what she suspected, that she was a lesbian in the Hollywood films of that decade, but regardless of '30s to present modern day, being a lesbian more often brought trouble than fame. We learn about her journey in Duyne's indie classic film also entitled The Watermelon Woman (1987).

Cheryl and her friend Tamara works in a video store and in their off time they make films. Cheryl becomes intrigued with that black actress from the '30s and begins to film a documentary on her life on how difficult it is to be black, lesbian and getting into Hollywood. What is surprising to HER is when she starts seeing a white girl, her own friend and the black community are also racist against her for doing so. Even after years, the civil right era, woman's rights era, there are people who are STILL against the who are lesbians or having interracial relationships ...even those who spoke out for them.

This film seems to point out the fact that everything is harder when you are 'black', being a black woman, black actress, even a black lesbian... it is about how both black and white families, communities and people will try to repress, deny and erase them from history, that their relationship ever existed. You are remembered if you are famous, BUT if you were gay or had interracial relationship you were forgotten, it shows that ignorance is not as same a tolerance. It is also interesting to see her do her search for films and the facts pre-Internet, down to a visit to a VHS video store.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is upgraded from the older DVD, but the videotaped sections were very hard for me to watch, though filmed parts were fine. Still, a tough sit for me, but the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound is fine and I'm told this looks better than the older DVD. Extras include a bonus film: Black is Blue, and trailers.

- Ricky Chiang


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