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Entries in Pariah (14)

Tuesday
Oct032017

Dee Rees Bringing Flo Kennedy, Gloria Steinem, and The Fight for the ERA to the Big Screen in "An Uncivil War"

by Daniel Crooke

While her World War II-set Mississippi saga Mudbound continues to roll out across the fall festival circuit, steadily increasing its buzz along the way, rising director Dee Rees has set her sights on the feminist movement’s fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment for her next film: An Uncivil War. Particularly focusing on the work of iconic activists Flo Kennedy and Gloria Steinem in the early 1970s as they battle for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal protection under the law for all citizens regardless of gender, and against archconservative forces led by fundamentalist organizer Phyllis Schlafly, FilmNation will finance the film with production set to begin early next year.

This is an exciting new chapter in Rees’s already distinguished filmography – which, in addition to Mudbound, includes her tender, achingly gorgeous debut Pariah and the Emmy-nominated Bessie – and the story is ripe for the moment. After so evocatively illustrating in her earlier work the ways in which hard-won personal identity can be met with retaliatory cultural reverberations from the close-mindedness within and around your own community, Rees has set herself up for success to dissect the multi-layered muddle of how this feminist moment impacted America. Indeed, in her own words: “I'm particularly interested in digging into the messiness of the women's movement — the many different alliances that were formed and fractured and exploring who got left behind vs who got remembered.” Personally this quote reminds me of the backroom brainstorm meetings between the fractious feminist street bands of Lizzie Borden’s dystopian docu-manifesto Born In Flames, a film which happens to feature Flo Kennedy in a galvanizing supporting performance as an elder stateswoman of the cause. That story, like this one, is a tale of intersectionality.

As An Uncivil War marches into pre-production, who would you cast as Flo Kennedy, Gloria Steinem, and Phyllis Schlafly?

Thursday
Jun162016

Great Moment in Gay - Pariah

In Great Moments in Gay, Team TFE looks at our favorite queer scenes in the movies for Pride Month. Here's Kieran Scarlett on Pariah (2011)

Writing this piece this week, in the wake of tragedy is especially difficult. Thinking about all of the incredible, vital voices that make up Team Experience, as well as the readers who this blog touches on a daily basis, it's impossible not to think that a great number of us could have been (and have been) in places just like that Orlando night club. Safe spaces for marginalized people—queer people in this instance—are sacred, rare and often self-forged. This is especially true of safe spaces for queer people of color, who face an even greater burden of those added identity politics. Now more than ever, it is important to recognize that being queer and open remains a revolutionary act. It's a sad truth to intuit—something so innate and unchanging being a cause for notice and affirmation in the face of a world that is still struggling to understand. It's also beautiful to observe the strength of the queer community, who continue to push forward, forging those safe spaces, making room in spaces that are not yet totally safe, prospering, thriving and living.

Which brings us to Dee Rees' 2011 debut feature film Pariah. This coming-of-age tale charts a young, black lesbian Alike (a magnetic Adepero Oduye) as she struggles to find herself. in the face of a home and school life that are not entirely welcoming to her identity...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun032016

Posterized: Movies About Young Black Girls

Not every movie has a white straight male protagonist. It just seems like that since that's Hollywood's default and also the preferred proxy of most (white straight male) auteurs.

But the times are finally a-changing. This weekend features the platform release of a mesmerizing new indie called The Fits -- please see it as soon as it opens near you. I was so proud to push for honoring it on my jury at the Nashville Film Festival. Fresh perspectives on the screen can be so exhilarating. That's especially true when the execution is this confident. Remember the debut director's name, Anna Rose Holmer, since we're hoping for more great movies to come.

In the meantime, let's take a trip back through other features with young black girls as the lead character. I haven't seen the first or the last movie on this list of nine below but the rest all fall somewhere on the spectrum of good to great. 

How many have you seen?

• Just Another Girl on the IRT (1992)
• Eve's Bayou (1997) - Really need to watch this again as previously earlier this week. It was the breakthrough role for Jurnee Smollett-Bell who went on to series regular gigs in Friday Night Lights, True Blood, and The Underground. 
• Our Song (2000) - When it comes to superstar Kerry Washington, it's important to remember that I saw her first. Articles from the early Aughts are no longer online but trust that I gave her a rave review when I saw this teeny tiny indie in theaters and was startled by her total naturalism onscreen.

• Precious (2009) - Best Picture Nominee at the Oscars, and right here.  
• Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
• Pariah (2011) - One of the best LGBT films of the decade

• Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) - Our #1 film of 2012, and also a Best Picture nominee at the Oscars
• Girlhood (2014) - terrific French film
• Annie (2014)

If you can think of other films with a child or teenage black girl as the lead character, please do share them so our list is more complete.

Wednesday
Jun012016

The 50 Greatest Films by Black Directors

Slate magazine has drawn up an interesting list of great black films, the twist being that they have to have been directed by a black person rather than about the black experience so out go Old Hollywood musicals like Carmen Jones or Cabin in the Sky or Oscar favorites like Sounder.  In the wake of recent conversations about Hollywood's power structures and overwhelming whiteness, Slate assembled a field of critics and filmmakers and scholars to produce the list.

Eve's Bayou

I need to get cracking on my gaps in knowledge from this list, especially because of the titles I've seen from this list several were great and the ones I didn't personally connect to were still interesting (Night Catches Us) or memorable (Eve's Bayou - I've been meaning to give that another shot now that I'm older). Unsurprisingly Spike Lee has the most titles with six. Curiously, though I've seen many Spike Lee joints (and tend to like them - I'd have included Chi-Raq on this list), I've only seen half of his titles that actually made it (gotta get to Mo' Better Blues, Crooklyn, and When the Levees Broke soon). The list is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec042015

Women's Pictures - Dee Rees's Pariah

Anne Marie returns after a brief break...

Over the course of this year, the purpose of our weekly "Women's Pictures" has been to explore the vast variety of female filmmakers. We've seen that women are not only present and working, but also highly diverse in their genre, style, and subject matter. Gender has often been a factor, but it has rarely been a focus. For the last month of the year, we're going to be watching films by two directors for whom gender, sexuality, and race are their focus: Dee Rees, and Celine Sciamma. Though both filmmakers have comparatively small filmographies, they have already established themselves as new, strong voices in contemporary cinema.

Dee Rees's 2011 film Pariah, based on the short of the same name, is an empathetic examination of a person usually invisible in cinema: the young black lesbian.

more...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May022012

Best Shot: "Pariah"

On this season of Hit Me With Your Best Shot we've looked at 80s fantasy (Ladyhawke), 60s zeitgeist drama (Bonnie & Clyde), 40s musical (Easter Parade), 30s gamechanger (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), 00s science fiction western (Serenity), and a 90s Asian masterpiece (Raise the Red Lantern). For this week's film, I chose something up to the minute, Dee Rees' Pariah (2011) just out on DVD. 

I found this film so moving late last year that I cursed Focus Features for letting it be crushed in the December glut where it had no business being in the first place. The coming out story of a shy Brooklyn lesbian was far too small and ethnic and gay and feminine an indie to hook Oscar voters so why make it compete for that attention? This selection was my excuse to promote the film as it enters its second and hopefully warmly embraced life for home viewing; it gets better!


I say that with a wink but without a trace of sarcasm. You see though I didn't have time to rewatch -- I've been struggling lately offblog. Apologies -- my most vivid memory of the film visually, and what I thought I might choose, is either of the bookending shots on the bus. I still remember the curiousity and sympathy I felt near the beginning when watching "Lee" travel home on the bus late at night after visiting a gay bar and the cathartic mix of peace and tears I experienced at the finale when light floods on to our humble heroine. The two shots are like beautifully symmetrical start and end points on her gorgeously executed character arc, a curved frame if you will for Adepero Oduye's breakout performance. Not that this character arc is ending. Lee's journey has only just begun.

I'm thrilled to discover that both of these shots were chosen by one of our 'Hit Me' participants. Since Pariah is as much about Alike trying to find her community as it is about her self-discovery, I think this is an ideal opportunity to say a genuine and loud THANK YOU to the participating blogs that make "Hit Me" such a rewarding communal series I hope you're always clicking and reading them for multiple views on all these fine films! 

 

  • FILM ACTUALLY looks at clothing as a public declaration of sexuality
  • ENCORE'S WORLD finds light from within
  • AWWW, THE MOVIES cocoons you in the moving poetry
  • SKETCHY DETAILS finds Rees use of color masterful and compares it to the work of Dario Argento (!)
  • CINESNATCH loves the performances but can't quite connect with the film
  • THE FILM'S THE THING is disappointed in the acclaimed indie but found Alike's double life reflections interesting. 
  • ANTAGONY & ECSTASY discusses the promise of Dee Rees and the bold recurring choices of artificial and "real" light...

 

...if all indie filmmakers thought about how to communicate visually as much as Rees has, American cinema would be in far better shape."

Next Wednesday on "Hit Me"The Exorcist (1973). Why don't you join in? I'll start early this week and make sure it happens. Nobody can ever believe that I've never seen it!