One of the big hits at the Sundance Film Festival this year was “Pariah”, the film written and directed by Dee Rees that chronicles the life of a 17-year-old African-American woman as she comes out and embraces her identity as a lesbian.
On National Coming Out Day last week, BlackEnterprise.com interviewed Rees about her own coming out experience, and how that influenced the film she would later go on to write and direct:
Focus Features (owned by NBC Universal) purchased Rees’ film after its Sundance premiere for a reported million dollars. The film will be at selected theaters December 28, 2011
“As I was coming into my sexuality, I started to become comfortable with who I was. But I didn’t know how to express that,” says the 34-year-old filmmaker. “Some of the awe and anxiety the lead character feels were things I experienced when I was coming out, coming into this world.”
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Rees was amazed to see teenage girls totally out and proud when she came to New York. “Even if I had figured out my sexuality at that age, I don’t know that I would have had the courage to be that person, and that is how the idea for the film came about,” she says. Not only is the film “semi-autobiographical,” the title has a personal connection. A pariah is a person without status, a rejected member of society, an outcast. It is a term Rees used to describe herself when she was coming out in her late ’20s. …
Rees admits the principal conflicts in the film are similar to her own. “Parental conflict is something I really went through,” she says. “When I came out, my parents weren’t accepting.” Once they realized that she wasn’t going through a “phase,” her parents staged interventions. “For a few months, they sent emails, cards, letters and Bible verses to make me change,” she says. “They felt guilty because they thought they had done something wrong; I felt guilty becuase I was causing so much pain.” She cut off communication, alienating herself, but eventually started talking to them again. “Things are better now.”
h/t Rod 2. 0