Professor Dunye Dedicated to Filling Void in Queer Film

Monday, May 02, 2016
Photo of Cheryl Dunye wearing glasses and leaning head slightly to her right

BAY AREA REPORTER -- San Francisco is the next stop on an international tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of Cheryl Dunye’s widely acclaimed film The Watermelon Woman, which has been restored and digitally remastered for the occasion. The film will be screened at the Castro Theatre on May 1, at 2pm, during the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, followed by an onstage conversation with Dunye, a Bay Area filmmaker and assistant professor in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University, and Darius Bost, Ph.D, assistant professor of Sexuality Studies at SFSU.

Since the film screened at the Castro on the opening night of Frameline in 1996, Dunye has gone on to make over 15 films, including Mommy Is Coming, The Owls, HBO’s The Stranger Inside and Miramax’s My Baby's Daddy. Last month, Dunye was awarded a 2016 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, an award given each year to artists, scholars and scientists on the basis of their past achievements and promise for future accomplishment.

“When I began filmmaking in the 1980s,” Dunye says, “there was no body of work by queer African Americans, and I have dedicated myself to filling that void by turning the lens on how I live my life and struggle through it.” As the 20th anniversary of her film approached, “I realized I had better give myself a birthday party.”

Photo by Hannah Anderson