Cheryle Dunye

Veronica Rodriguez

Comm 137 SP 16

Cheryle Dunye is a filmmaker who is a black female filmmaker who is very original in her content. Her personal agenda is mainly to educate other people about social issues that are seemingly uncomfortable to talk about. She pushes limits and creates new spaces for other women like her. One film that I really enjoyed was a film called Stranger Inside. In a way, it  is like Orange is the New Black in that it deals with women in prison. However, in this film, she brings up so many social issues that are never addressed. She is a lesbian herself and in her films she brings that with her also. In the few films I discuss, there it is evident that her struggles are being documented.

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Although her films can seems to be a little surprising with the rawness, that is what makes Cheryle such a great filmmaker. She discusses intersectionality of being a woman, black, lesbian, and also in a male dominated work force. She often shares her vision through what is now known as Dunyementaries. She integrates fact and fiction, where fact is in form of a documentary, and it usually is her playing herself.

The first lesbian feature film was produced by Dunye herself. She was looking to find more information about black female filmmakers, and also those who happened to be lesbians, like herself. She wasn’t able to so the film, Watermelon Woman, is supposed to close a gap and make a statement.

Dunye wanted to create more roles for black women and for them to be recorded in history. The visibility of women has always been shadowed by males, more so the visibility of black women. Because she wanted to create a more open space for black women to be noted, she also produced the film, Stranger Inside. This film used real people who played themselves. Dunye was able to deliver an authentic story that allowed the issues she’d been faced with to be exposed.

Her films all examine the social inequality issues, colorism, queerism, and racism. The final film I discussed in my midterm paper was Black is Blue. It was about a woman who is transgender male. This film comes from the woman gaze and Dunye was able to ensure authenticity to the LGBT community as well.

All in all, Cheryle Dunye has been making film that evoke emotion that is suppressed by common media practices. She makes films to make us see past the sugar coating of history and allow us to think for ourselves. The films all have similar burdens which reflect Dunye’s own. She is not a binary person. She has to intersect all of her characteristics and in that way, she is able to perpetuate misconceptions about the black experience and more specifically, the black lesbian experience.

Citations:

“Stranger Inside.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 04 June 2016.

“The Watermelon Woman 1996 Part 1 of 2 – Video Dailymotion.” Dailymotion. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2016.

Norrena, Jim. “California College of the Arts.” Cheryl Dunye’s “Black Is Blue” Awarded Best Short Film at Frameline Film Festival. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2016.
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Author: Comm 137 Spring 2016

Navigating the microevolution of culture through the individual experience as expressed through the lens of the black woman filmmaker.

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