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The Early Works of Cheryl Dunye
Six short films by Cheryl Dunye

80 minutes, fiction, color & b/w, English, 1990-1994

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Synopsis

Vilified by conservatives in Congress, defended by major newspapers, and celebrated by audiences and festivals around the world as one of the most provocative, humorous and important filmmakers of our time, Cheryl Dunye practically invented a new form of cinema – call it the ‘Dunyementary.’ Using a mixture of narrative and documentary techniques, the ‘Dunyementary’ challenges social and cultural norms through a sharply funny and reflexive lens. Never scholarly or didactic, Dunye appreciates the value in entertaining viewers.

Her acclaimed first feature The Watermelon Woman (1996) introduced Cheryl to wider audiences, who fell in love with her self-depreciating and insightful wit – not to mention the great casts she assembled (including herself). But what came before this modern-day classic?

Presented here are the films that started it all – the early works which gave birth to an extraordinary and original filmmaking talent. Made with great creativity on often miniscule budgets, they represent the first chapter of the Cheryl Dunye oeuvre.

GREETINGS FROM AFRICA (Narrative, 1994)
Cheryl, playing herself, humorously experiences the mysteries of lesbian dating in the 90’s.
“A winsome comic confessional... Dunye is so endearing that I felt privileged to spend 8 minutes in her company.” -Matt Zoller Seitz, New York Press

THE POTLUCK AND THE PASSION (Experimental Narrative, 1993)
Sparks fly as racial, sexual and social politics intermingle at a lesbian potluck.

AN UNTITLED PORTRAIT (Video Montage, 1993)
Dunye’s relationship with her brother is examined in this mixture of appropriated film footage, super 8mm home movies & Dunye’s special brand of humor.

VANILLA SEX (Experimental Documentary, 1992)
Is it who you do, or what you do?

SHE DON’T FADE (Experimental Narrative, 1991)
A self-reflexive look at the sexuality of a young black lesbian.
“Sharp, funny and intelligent.” -Yvonne Welbon, Film Scholar

JANINE (Experimental Documentary, 1990)
The story of a black lesbian’s relationship with a white, upper middle class high school girl.


Reviews

"The lesbian Spike Lee...she’s hysterically funny." - Newsday

"Cheryl Dunye has a passion for ideas." - The Advocate

"Talent and open-heartedness." - The New York Times

"Dunye has united gay, African and women’s filmmaking." - Boston Phoenix

"Dunye’s delightful early short films – her ‘Dunyementaries’ – fuse humor, intelligence and drama in the world of urban, young black lesbians as they make their way through the murky waters of love, friendship and dating." - OutFest Los Angeles


Disc Features

●  Interview with Cheryl Dunye
●  Director's Introduction
●  Director Biography & Filmography


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