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Past Films

The Essentials: Pariah (2011)

  • Starring: Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans, Aasha Davis
  • Director: Dee Rees
  • Genre(s): Drama
  • Rating: R
  • Running Time: 86 min.

The Essentials: Auteurs
This quarterly series showcases the “essential” films everyone should see on the big screen. For each month-long program, we’ll screen five films organized by one of the following themes: directors, actors, genres, and eras/movements.

Essential tickets are $9 for Adults, $8 for Students/Seniors and Members get in Free!

Summary: Adepero Oduye, who had earlier starred in the short film, portrays Alike (pronounced ah-lee-kay), a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents Audrey and Arthur and younger sister Sharonda in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. She has a flair for poetry, and is a good student at her local high school. Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. With the sometimes boisterous support of her best friend, out lesbian Laura, Alike is especially eager to find a girlfriend. At home, her parents’ marriage is strained and there is further tension in the household whenever Alike’s development becomes a topic of discussion. Pressed by her mother into making the acquaintance of a colleague’s daughter, Bina, Alike finds Bina to be unexpectedly refreshing to socialize with. Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity – sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward. (Focus Features)

""Pariah" is a small film about a big subject: the struggle to be who you are, not who others would like you to be."
- Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Rees' script, peppered with colourful hip-hop argot, is smart and economical, with well-drawn characters, dialogue and situations that echo with authenticity."
- Bruce DeMara, Toronto Star
"Adepero Oduye is excellent as a Brooklyn teen coming to terms with her sexual identity in this gritty film"
- Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News
"The film is an impressive debut for writer-director Dee Rees."
- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"In her fearless, world-here-I-am! debut Pariah, writer-director Dee Rees demonstrates, with simplicity and verve, that there's no substitute for authenticity."
- Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
"The coming-out/coming-of-age story is almost a genre of its own, but Pariah has a fresh and distinctly urban take, anchored by an affable lead performance."
- USA Today
"The gifted Dee Rees makes finding out a stirring and heartfelt journey. And Adepero Oduye is unforgettable. A star is born."
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"This invigoratingly fresh, optimistic film - which features the breathtaking debuts of director Dee Rees and leading lady Adepero Oduye - plunges the audience into a world that's both tough and tender, vivid and grim, drenched in poetry and music and pain and discovery."
- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post