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Pariah (15)

Outdoor Cinema 2024

Dee Rees’ beautiful debut film stars Adepero Oduye as a teenage lesbian living in Brooklyn, who falls hard for a girl in her church group and struggles with her relationship with her family.

One of modern cinema’s great debuts, Pariah is a heartfelt portrait of Black lesbian life, whose importance and legacy has increased in the years since its release. 

Adepero Oduye gives an excellent performance as Alike, the young poet who finds much-needed support from her best friend Laura (Pernell Walker), a butch lesbian who is far more confident. Alike struggles in her relationship with her unhappy mother (Kim Wayans, excellent), but escape is offered through a close relationship with another girl and a potential college opportunity.

Boasting beautiful cinematography and an excellent screenplay, Pariah is a landmark queer film that marked the arrival of an exciting new director. Rees went on to make the Oscar-nominated Mudbound (2017), becoming the first African-American woman to be nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

USA 2011 dir Dee Rees 86 min

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‘One of the things that makes Dee Rees’ Pariah so special is its continuing cultural resonance 10 years after its initial release. It’s a stunning and nuanced depiction of Black lesbian life.‘
Grace Barber-Plentie, British Film Institute

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