The Berkeley Film Foundation is set to honor the trailblazing filmmaker Cheryl Dunye with the inaugural Award for Justice & Inclusion in Film. She will be given the award at the foundation’s 10th Anniversary Celebration, the Gala for Justice & Inclusion in Film at SFJAZZ on November 23.
The Award for Justice & Inclusion in Film was established to recognize visionary local filmmakers whose careers have paved the way for future generations of Bay Area filmmakers, especially filmmakers of color, women, students, people with disabilities and LGTBQ filmmakers.
Dunye emerged during the “Queer New Wave” of young filmmakers during the ’90s. Her debut feature film The Watermelon Woman won the Teddy Award for Best Feature at the 1996 Berlin International Film Festival. The film was re-released and restored in 2016 for its 20th anniversary. The film has cemented itself as a groundbreaking classic and is now part of the permanent cinema collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
In 2002, Dunye’s released her second feature Stranger Inside at the Sundance Film Festival. It was nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards including Best Director. She went on to direct My Baby’s Daddy (2004), The Owls (2010) and Mommy Is Coming (2012). She then made her way to television and recently served as Producing Director on season 4 f Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar on OWN.
“We are honored to give Cheryl Dunye the inaugural Award for Justice and Inclusion in Film,” said Berkeley FILM Foundation President Abby Ginzberg. “Through her extraordinary body of work—from The Watermelon Woman to Queen Sugar—Cheryl embodies the type of bold filmmaking that the Berkeley FILM Foundation seeks to support. Cheryl Dunye is a model for young Bay Area filmmakers from all backgrounds who believe they have an important story to tell.”
“Making movies is hard work under the best of circumstances,” said Dunye. “But there are extra barriers for queer women of color and filmmakers with diverse backgrounds and experiences. The work of the Berkeley FILM Foundation is so important because they elevate local voices that need to be heard. Sometimes a small grant at the right time is all it takes to help a pioneering young filmmaker move their project forward. I’m honored to receive this award and proud to support the efforts of the Berkeley FILM Foundation.”