Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Watermelon Woman - the movie

A movie with a more than just a little bit of meta-meta fiction. With Watermelon Woman Cheryl Dunye creates a film in which she documents herself searching for a (ficticious) 1930s African-American actress known as Watermelon Woman. Watermelon Woman's supposed affair with a white director parallels Cheryl's romance with Diana, a white customer in the video store (remember those) where Cheryl works with her best friend Tamara.

There are two librarians in this work. Neither is portrayed in a particularly impressive light. One is a young, rather effeminate, and snotty (both literally and figuratively) male reference librarian who dismisses Cheryl and Tamara after a cursory search in his database. The other is an archivist at the Center for Lesbian Information and Technology - C.L.I.T - in New York City. Everything at C.L.I.T. is stored in uncatalogued boxes. An unnamed volunteer at the archives dumps the contents of a box onto a table and prepares to dump another before Cheryl stops her. The volunteer explains twice in the short scene that C.L.I.T. is run by volunteers and that someday everything will be categorized and easy to find. The volunteer is at both disorganized, and unlike-able.

Producing this movie must have been quite an expensive undertaking. Dunye had to create the grainy black-and-white movie clips of the fictitious films "Watermelon Woman" appeared in. This was a real mind bender.

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