Watermelon Man


Guest curator: Arts + Public Life Film Fellow Cam Be


White, loud-mouth suburban husband, father and businessman Jeff Gerber seems to have it all, until the day he wakes up black. Suddenly, he’s a white bigot in black skin who has to deal with a shocked family, intolerant neighbors, cold shoulders at the office and a back seat on the bus in Melvin Van Peebles’ outrageous 1970 comedy.


Award-winning Chicago filmmaker, multi-disciplinary artist and Arts + Public Life Film Fellow Cam Be curated this film program, and will lead a post-screening conversation with artist and designer Drew of Enstrumental. Cam cites Chicago native Melvin Van Peebles as one of the most influential directors of his career.


“In Watermelon Man, which predates the blaxploitation era and serves as a precursor to his breakthrough film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, we find Van Peebles’ genius shines through as both director and as composer of the musical score,” writes Be. “This film is both entertaining and a great conversation piece 47 years later.”


(Melvin Van Peebles, 1970, 100 min)