In Celebration of writer/director Dee Rees’ birthday today (born 1977), we at Birds’ Eye View will be watching PARIAH (2011)
Dee Rees was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee before she entered NYU’s prestigious graduate program in her late 20s.
Her first work was in short film while getting her Master’s degree. “Orange Bow” (2005) was her first festival work, earning her acclaim and awards. During her time at NYU, she wrote the script for what would become her breakout film “Pariah” (2011). For her thesis, she directed the first act of it in the short film “Pariah” (2007), another well-received work. It led to her screenwriting and directing fellowship at Sundance in 2008, which led to her first feature film, the documentary “Eventual Salvation” (2008). Her first fictional movie was “Pariah” (2011), a semi-autobiographical tale about a young black women trying to find herself. The film was critically acclaimed, and Rees’ next work was picked up by HBO, as she made the TV movie “Bessie” (2015) starring Queen Latifah as singer Bessie Smith. “Bessie” was a critical darling, netting multiple Primetime Emmy Awards, including a pair of nominations for Rees for her writing and directing. Before embarking on her next full-length work, Rees dabbled in television directing, helming an episode of “Empire” (Fox 2015- ). Her next film, the period drama “Mudbound” (2017), was picked up by Netflix after a successful festival showing. As that film was coming out, it was announced that Rees’ next project was an adaptation of the Joan Didion novel “The Last Thing He Wanted.”
Rees’ 2011 film tells the story of 17-year old Alike, who is starting to explore and embrace her sexuality (as a lesbian). Rees followed this movie with the 2015 HBO biopic Bessie, about queer blues singer Bessie Smith (played by Queen Latifah). She’s helping to develop the TV adaptation of The Warmth of Other Suns, along with Shonda Rhimes. If you’ve got time, you should also check out the period film Mudblood, as well as her documentary Eventual Salvation.
WHERE TO WATCH PARIAH CLICK HERE