Not only has this been a year of amazing premieres at Sundance 2011, but it’s also been a year for sales. Almost every film that was in the “In Competition” section has been sold — and that’s not to even get started with all the rest. While I was crying my eyes out in Pariah (read Brendan Walsh’s review) and watching the director Dee Rees get yet another standing ovation for her final showing of the film, Focus Features was busy shaking hands with someone because by the time I exited the theater, there was big news…
Focus Features has officially acquired worldwide rights to the contemporary drama Pariah, which has been receiving amazing reviews from critics and is definitely a contender for the audiences pick for best drama of the film.
The film came from first time writer/director Dee Rees and a cast of “unknowns” who’ll you’ll want to start paying attention to. A couple of year ago Dee came to Sundance with her short film for Pariah, was able to catch the attention of investors and receive backing from Spike Lee who signed on as the films executive producer and helped see it through until its world-premiere as an “In Competition” film this past week.
And this won’t be the last time we hear from Dee, in tandem with the Pariah acquisition, Focus has engaged her to write another screenplay for them to release. The script deal “is for a new feature-length film that the writer/director would conceive.” Sounds like a good idea! Get her while she’s hot!
Find out more about the film below:
The feature is an expansion of Ms. Rees’ short film of the same name, which screened at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Ms. Oduye, who had starred in the short film, portrays Alike (pronounced “ah-lee-kay”), a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents (Kim Wayans and Charles Parnell) and younger sister (Sahra Mallesse) in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. With the support of her best friend Laura (Pernell Walker), she is especially eager to find a girlfriend. Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity – sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward.
Focus Features CEO James Schamus said, “Dee Rees has made a debut film that celebrates with astonishing artistry the journey of a young woman who simply never gives up on the power of love. We’re thrilled to join her on this next step of a remarkable journey.”
“We’re thrilled to be working with Focus Features. They’re such smart marketers and they love movies, so that we knew Focus was the perfect home for Pariah. We are excited for the film to reach the broadest audience possible,” said Ms. Rees.
Are you excited to see the film?