THE WATERMELON WOMAN (1996)
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 of her personal life. Her love affair with Diana (Guinevere Turner), a beautiful white woman, and her interactiosn with the gay and black communities are subject to the comic yet biting criticism of her best friend Tamara (Valarie Walker.) Meanwhile, each answer Cheryl discovers about The Watermelon Woman evokes a flurry of new questions about herself and her future. At the films conclusion, the Watermelon Woman is clearly a metaphor for Cheryl's search for identity, community, and love.
The film garnered the Teddy Award at Berlinale in 1996. Other honors that year included the Creteil Festival of Women's Cinema "Audience Award" , The OUTFEST Los Angeles "Audience Award", Taipei International Film Festival "Golden Horse" Award, and Torino International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival "Audience Award."
83 MINUTES. DIGITAL REMASTER, COLOR, 1996. A FIRST RUN FEATURES RE-RELEASE.
MY BABY'S DADDY (2004)
Responsibility has long evaded Lonnie (Eddie Griffin), "G" (Anthony Anderson) and Dominic (Michael Imperioli), three party animals who live a wasted existence with Lonnie's obscene uncle, Virgil (John Amos). This carefree lifestyle is shattered when each of the hedonistic slackers impregnates his girlfriend at the same time. Slowly but surely, the three are dragged into the drudgery of fatherhood and maturity -- but not without putting up a fierce fight.
86 minutes. COLOR, digital, 2004. MIRAMAX.
THE OWLS (2010)
An independent drama about four women struggling to make sense of their pasts lives one particular evening. Iris (Guinevere Turner) and M.J. (V.S. Brodie) are a lesbian couple who live in Los Angeles, while their friends Lily (Lisa Gornick) and Carol (Cheryl Dunye) are another couple with a home nearby. Iris, M.J., and Lily were all members of a once successful all-female rock band, but now that they're middle aged, they're in an uncomfortable position where they feel culture and politics passing them. One evening, a young woman named Skye (Skyler Cooper) pays a visit to Lily and Carol's home. Carol, clearly attracted, lets her in even though they've never met. However, she soon realizes she's made a mistake -- The Owls (Older, Wiser Lesbians) was an official selection at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival.
66 minutes, color, digital, 2010. First Run Features
BLACK IS BLUE (SHORT, 2014)
BLACK IS BLUE is a short narrative that tells the story of Black, an African American Transman, who works as a security guard inside an apartment complex in present day Oakland, California. On the night of a 'stud party,' Black is forced to confront his pre-transition past, struggling to make his outside match his inside.
21 minutes. color, 2014. 13 Gen, Clever.
STRANGER INSIDE (2000)
Dunye’s second feature is the story of Treasure Lee (Yolanda Ross), a young African American woman who has moved out of ‘juvenile’ prison to the State Pen in search of Brownie (Davenia Mc Fadden) the mother she never knew. Based on four years of research into the lives of incarcerated women, the film is an authentic study of American prison life in the 21st century. Once again Dunye creatively mixes documentary and narrative filmmaking styles. Also featured are images from Dunye’s collaboration with renowned photographer Catherine Opie.
90 minutes, 35mm, color, sound, 2000.
HBO Films. Unrated.
THE EARLY WORKS OF CHERYL DUNYE (COMPILATION, 2008)
Vilified by conservatives in Congress, defended by major newspapers, and celebrated by audiences and festivals around the world as one of the most provocative, humorous and important filmmakers of our time, Cheryl Dunye practically invented a new form of cinema – call it the ‘Dunyementary.’ Using a mixture of narrative and documentary techniques, the ‘Dunyementary’ challenges social and cultural norms through a sharply funny and reflexive lens. Never scholarly or didactic, Dunye appreciates the value in entertaining viewers.
Her acclaimed first feature The Watermelon Woman (1996) introduced Cheryl to wider audiences, who fell in love with her self-depreciating and insightful wit – not to mention the great casts she assembled (including herself). But what came before this modern-day classic?
Presented here are the films that started it all – the early works which gave birth to an extraordinary and original filmmaking talent. Made with great creativity on often miniscule budgets, they represent the first chapter of the Cheryl Dunye oeuvre.
COLLECTED: GREETINGS FROM AFRICA (Narrative, 1994), THE POTLUCK AND THE PASSION (Experimental Narrative, 1993), AN UNTITLED PORTRAIT (Video Montage, 1993), VANILLA SEX (Experimental Documentary, 1992), SHE DON’T FADE (Experimental Narrative, 1991), JANINE (Experimental Documentary, 1990)
80 minutes. color, b&W. first run features.
MOMMY IS COMING (2012)
Cheryl Dunye returns with a sassy, raunchy, romantic sex comedy set in the edgy underground of Berlin where love and taboo affairs collide! Cute power femme Dylan (Lil Harlow) and studly hotel clerk Claudia (the sexy Papi Coxxx) are suffering from monogamous relationship blues. Hellbent to Claudia sets out on a gender-bending roller coaster-now as Claude-through a subversive Berlin sex club while her lover has threesomes with her best friend Teo (played by the incomparable Jiz Lee.) Everything comes to a climax when Dylan's mother (world-renown sex educator Maggie Tapert) arrives in town hellbent on releasing some tension. Fun, provocative and interwoven with personal interviews, Mommy Is Coming is filled with sheer delight - in more ways than one!
64 MINUTES. COLOR, DIGITAL, 2012. Jürgen Brüning Filmproduktion
VALENCIA (CO-DIRECTOR, 2013)
Valencia is a collaboration between a national community of queer filmmakers to adapt the underground classic memoir into a kaleidoscopic vision of San Francisco's Mission District in the early 90s during the rise of a punk lesbian diaspora told through the experiences of Michelle, a single rootless twenty-something searching for sex and love, drugs and adventure.