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Archiving by Other Means:
The Watermelon Woman

28th June 2024 · 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Doors open: 6:30pm


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Archiving by Other Means:  The Watermelon Woman

Join Conway Hall this summer for an exclusive screening of Cheryl Dunye’s landmark film The Watermelon Woman (1997). Widely regarded as being the first US feature film directed and produced by a black lesbian director, Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman creates a whole new kind of intertexutal fictional storytelling and archival discovery, drawing upon restorative practices and social action to advocate for queer counternarratives.

Winner of the Teddy Award at the Berlin International Film Festival and Audience Award for Outstanding Feature at Outfest (1996), Dunye’s sharply satirical debut picture brought to the screen something startlingly novel and innovative upon its release: a semi-parodic and complex portrayal of Black lesbian identity by a Black lesbian filmmaker. The Watermelon Woman sees video clerk and filmmaker Cheryl (played by Cheryl Dunye herself) determined to piece together the history of a long-forgotten and uncredited African-American actress from the 1930s, only known as ‘The Watermelon Woman’. Cheryl sets out to film a documentary to better understand the actress’ identity, recognising commonalities with her own life and developing an enigmatic kinship with her along the way.

Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman is a film directly inspired by historical absence, seeking to question the nature of archival authority and historical archival practices for their part in erasing and silencing queer stories. In exploring the limitations of “traditional” historical research, examining the ways in which historical records may be inaccessible and exposing the power dynamics underlying research in these domains, Dunye’s debut looks to confront the limitations of the historical record and reconfigure once limited spaces into places of possibility.

Age Recommendation: 16+

Price: Standard £10 • Concessions £8

Access Information

Due to the age and Grade Il listing of the building, there is no lift access to rooms above the ground floor.

All the ground-floor rooms are fully accessible by wheelchair. Main Hall (street access, step-free), Brockway Room (street access, step-free), Bertrand Russell Room (street access, shallow ramp), Hive Cafe (street access, step-free), There is also an accessible toilet on the ground floor opposite the Brockway Room.


Other events that may interest you

Picturing Nonconformity: LGBT Humanist Heritage Opening

Lead Me Into Temptation, Please: LGBT Summer Fair

Further Info

If you have any accessibility enquiries, please contact us at / 020 7405 1818.

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