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Sundance: ‘Pariah’ acquired by Focus Features

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: In the latest of a steady stream of Sundance sales, Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to the contemporary drama “Pariah,” which world-premiered In Competition at this year’s fest.

The debut feature from writer/director Dee Rees, “Pariah” expands on a short film about Alike (Adepero Oduye), 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.”

More from the release:

In tandem with the “Pariah” acquisition, Focus has engaged Ms. Rees to write a screenplay. The script deal is for a new feature-length film that the writer/director would conceive.

“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.

In addition to Mr. Lee, the executive producers of Pariah are Jeff Robinson, Sam Martin, Mary Jane Skalski, Susan Lewis, Ann Bradley, Stefan Nowicki, Benjamin Weber, Joey Carey, Julie Parker Benello, Wendy Ettinger, Judith Hefland, Douglas A. Eisenberg, and Matthew J. Simon.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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