“Pariah” director a finalist for Sundance filmmaker award

Dee Rees, the out writer/director who brought us the award-winning short film Pariah, is one of 12 finalists for the 2009 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award.

Dee Rees

photo credit: Fred Hayes

One recipient each from Europe, Latin America, the United States, and Japan will be selected by members of an international jury to receive a cash prize of $10,000 and a guarantee from NHK to purchase the Japanese television broadcast rights upon completion of their project. The winners will be announced on Jan. 22, 2009 at the Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award reception at the Sundance Film Festival.

Pariah is a coming-of-age story about an African-American
lesbian teen who struggles with her sexual orientation in the face of a
conservative family. The film has already won awards at Outfest, the
Chicago International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and The San
Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Rees originally wrote Pariah as a feature length, semi-autobiographical piece, and she is, along with her partner and Pariah producer Nekisa Cooper, currently working to make it into a feature film.

She recently told AfterEllen.com, “It’s such a huge honor to be included as a NHK finalist and I’m just completely blown away. The Sundance Institute has been more than generous with us and their support has been so critical in making Pariah the best that it can be and getting it out into the world.”

She added, “Currently, we’re working with Eyde Belasco (Half Nelson, Rescue Dawn) on casting for the “Arthur” and “Audrey” roles and are excited to be working with production designer Inbal Weinberg (Frozen River) and cinematographer Bradford Young (Entre Nos) as we start to sketch out the look for the film. We’re currently in New York City location scouting, fundraising, and just continuing to put the production team in place to move things forward. We’re just excited and ready to go and get this thing done.”

Rees and Cooper are also now finalizing their feature documentary based on the life of Rees’ grandmother, Eventual Salvation.

Join Rees and Cooper’s mailing list, watch the Pariah trailer and get updates and future scoop on the feature development of Pariah here.