The Watermelon Woman

on March 05, 1997 by Lea Russo
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   Exploring the life of a struggling black lesbian filmmaker (writer/director Cheryl Dunye) as she attempts to uncover and document the world of a virtually unknown and practically forgotten actress from the '30s, "The Watermelon Woman" looks like a high-school video project--intentionally. As her character searches for identity in the face of racial and sexual tensions, Dunye brilliantly creates a faux first-person account, mingling jerky, camcorder-ish images with grainy film footage and a chatty tone.
   The only major flaw with this award-winning festival fave is in the underdeveloped and overacted character of Tamara (Valarie Walker), whose unbridled bitchiness seems neither real nor funny. It's a glitch in an otherwise interesting vision. Starring Cheryl Dunye, Guin Turner and Valarie Walker. Directed and written by Cheryl Dunye. Produced by Barry Swimar and Cate Wilson. A First Run release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 90 min.
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