As audience members, we seem to intuitively know how to interpret films. We accurately categorize films as fiction and documentary without giving it a second thought. But how do we know which films are fiction or nonfiction? What conventions do filmmakers draw from to code their films as representations of fantasy or reality?
Borrowing from sociologist Erving Goffman’s theory of frame analysis, I outline how filmmaker Cheryl Dunye utilizes narrative and documentary frames to construct the lost history of Faye Richards, also known as “The Watermelon Woman.” In The Watermelon Woman, Dunye deftly shifts between frames to paint the complexities involved in navigating racial identity, sexual identity, and class, all while attempting to find her own voice in the face of historical absence.
The IU Cinema will host Cheryl Dunye and her films in the program, Cheryl Dunye: Blurring Distrinctions, on Sunday, January 21 – Tuesday January 23.
- The Early Works of Cheryl Dunye (Shorts Program) – Sunday, January 21, 6:30 pm
- Double Feature: The Watermelon Woman (1996) and Black is Blue (2014) – Monday, January 22, 7 pm
- Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Program featuring Cheryl Dunye – Tuesday, January 23, 3 pm
- Cheryl Dunye presents a Double Feature: Portrait of Jason (Shirley Clarke, 1967) and Pink Triangles (Cambridge Documentary Films, 1982) – Tuesday, January 23, 7 pm
Laura Ivins loves stop motion, home movies, imperfect films, nature hikes, and Stephen Crane’s poetry. She has a PhD from Indiana University and an MFA from Boston University. In addition to watching and writing about movies, sometimes she also makes them.