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The Watermelon Woman – Outdoor screening

September 3, 2023 @ 21:00 23:00

The film is written, directed, and edited by Cheryl Dunye, who created it with a budget of just $300,000. It stands as the first feature film ever made by a Black lesbian filmmaker, making it a landmark in the New Queer Cinema. Inspired by and an ode to Black actresses like Louise Beavers, Hattie McDaniel, and Butterfly McQueen, who were often typecast, the character of Fae Richards embodies an amalgamation of these sidelined actresses from film history. In an interview about the film, Dunye drew attention to the fact that, even 60 years later, Black actresses were still being typecast in roles she referred to as “modern-day mammies,” advocating for more Black protagonists.

Although Dunye researched the Lesbian Herstory Archives and the Library of Congress, budget constraints prevented her from using these materials in her film. Consequently, she staged the archival photographs featured in the film herself, even recreating footage resembling video from the 1930s.

Rosa Oomen, QFFU

This program is part of the retrospective Going Underground – An Introduction to New Queer Cinema. Film critic and scholar B. Ruby Rich was the first one to coin the term New Queer Cinema (NQC) to describe a wave of independent queer films made by queer directors from the early 80s to the mid 90s. These filmmakers explored issues such as race, class and gender identity within the LGBTQ+ community. With this program we want to give you a small taste of this groundbreaking cinematic movement. Come explore a collection of underground, experimental and rebellious queer cinema treasures that you rarely experience on the big screen.



Cheryl, a young African-Americanlesbian, works a day job in a video store while trying to make a documentary about an actress from the 1930s. This woman, only ever credited as “the watermelon woman”, exclusively got typecast in the stereotypical “mammy” roles relegated to Black actresses during that period. While uncovering the meaning of her life, Cheryl simultaneously experiences an upheaval of her own.

Film Facts

Original language title: The Watermelon Woman

Directed by: Cheryl Dunye

Year: 1996

Country: USA

Running time: 85 mins

Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance

Language: English

Subtitles: English

Awards: BIFF 1996 Winner: Best Feature Film (Teddy)

Content warning: Sex and nudity, racial commentary, use of soft-drugs

Side program

The film will be introduced by QFFU.

Walk-in from 20:30. The film will be screened outside.

Chairs are provided, but you may also bring your own. Bring a rug or cushion!

Villa Concordia

Concordiastraat 67A
Utrecht, Utrecht 3551 EM Nederland
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