In honor of Women’s History Month, NYWIFT looks back at some of the remarkable women who have shaped the film, television and digital media industries through the decades.
By Kathryn O’Kane
Twenty years ago a young artist set out to make a documentary about women like herself: black queer filmmakers. She found nothing but homophobia and omission, and then… inspiration.
The resulting film The Watermelon Woman marked Cheryl Dunye’s 1996 debut – a hybrid of autobiography, documentary, and comedy. It defies categorization and was the first feature film directed by an African American lesbian.
With biting humor and a sharp eye towards hidden histories, the film deftly captures the search for identity and how we, in turn, preserve and share history – from the stories told by ourselves, families, and communities, to those produced by Hollywood and culture writ large.
According to Advocate, “the film, which underlined the absence of black queer women in cinema’s history, is even more relevant today, as queer women of color remain deeply underrepresented onscreen. Although we now have icons like Lena Waithe to look up to, we must show our gratitude to Dunye, whose work has paved the way for Waithe’s creative excellence.”
The Watermelon Woman is still regularly screened around the country. The Watermelon Woman and two other films of Cheryl Dunye are being shown at the second annual Feminist Film Week at the Anthology Film Archives this month.
Dunye is currently a director on Ava DuVernay’s OWN series Queen Sugar.
Ericka Nicole Malone Entertainment presents the “Indie Director’s and Creator’s Spotlight” in celebration of diversity in filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival 2023. Featuring a day of education, industry networking and panels, its evening activation will transform into a Neo Soul lounge with the sultry sounds of 3x Grammy Award-nominated R&B/Neo Soul Singer Angie Stone as the headliner.READ MORE
Happy Black History Month! At NYWIFT we are celebrating the Black creators and artists in our membership, while honoring Black culture & cinema throughout history. Today’s spotlight is on our member Taylor Re Lynn, an actor, singer, producer, and philanthropist.READ MORE
Happy Black History Month! At NYWIFT we are celebrating the Black creators and artists in our membership, while honoring Black culture & cinema throughout history. Today’s spotlight is on our member Brianna Seagraves, an actress, writer, and award-winning producer. Brianna shares her acting inspirations and her directorial debut at the Billie Holiday Theater.READ MORE