A comedic pseudo-documentary, The Watermelon Woman is the first feature length film to be directed by a black lesbian. It has received wide critical and popular acclaim and was the winner of the Teddy Award at last year's Berlin Film Festival.
Set in present day Philadelphia, the film explores African-American and lesbian film history, inter-racial lesbian relationships and the complexity of identity. It is the story of Cheryl, an aspiring black lesbian filmmaker who becomes intrigued with a black actress from the 1930s. Cheryl decides to make a documentary about the elusive actress who is known simply as "The Watermelon Woman." As Cheryl begins to uncover information about "The Watermelon Woman," whom she discovers was probably a lesbian, she begins to question her own identity.
The film also features Guinevere Turner, writer and star of Go Fish; African-American lesbian poet and activist Cheryl Clarke; African-American feminist academic Michelle Wallace; and Brian Freeman of the performance group Pomo Afro Homos. Singer/songwriter Toshi Reagon, cultural critic Camille Paglia and author Sara Schulman make cameo appearances.
Dunye is currently a visiting professor at Pitzer College and California Institute of the Arts. She is also the director of several shorts including She Don't Fade, The Potluck and the Passion and Greetings from Africa. Her next project will focus on the experiences of young women in prison.