Focus Features picks up “Pariah”

Out director Dee Rees has closed on an acquisition deal with Focus Features for her feature film, Pariah. Deadline.com reports at least two other distributors were interested in the film, which has garnered major buzz at Sundance this year, but Focus won out, as they did with last year’s acquisition, The Kids Are All Right.

Pariah is a film that not only delves into a young girl’s burgeoning sexuality, but the story of Alike, a 17-year-old black butch-identified girl who is trying to figure herself out amongst her peers and family in Brooklyn. She leads a double life of sorts, trying to be feminine enough at home to please her mother while attempting to be happy with herself and living life as an openly queer woman. (Check out our Pariah video diaries for more information on the film and its journey at Sundance.)

On Tuesday, Rees joined the directors of other gay-themed films at Sundance for a panel on LGBT youth on screen, where she discussed the genesis of Pariah, and how important it was for her to tell the story of Alike.

There are rarely stories told about young black women, much less young black lesbian women, and this project is a major success story, having started as a short film that was later funded by a Sundance scholarship and funds from fans via Kickstarter. Pariah was entered into the festival as part of the U.S. Dramatic Competition, so it could be a winner. Star Adepero Oduye has already received praise from several press outlets and critics, many hailing her as a breakout star of this year’s fest.


“Pariah” cast and crew (L to R) Pernell Walker, Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell, director Dee Rees, actresses Adepero Oduye, Sahra Mellesse, executive producer Nekisa Cooper, and actress Aasha Davis

So this means Pariah will soon be heading to a theater near you, and that’s the best case scenario for a film that premieres at Sundance. Congrats to all involved. See you at the Oscars in 2012, Dee Rees.

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