The 21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards were a blast Monday night, especially because “Pariah” director Dee Rees took home the coveted Breakthrough Director award.
Other notable awardees included “Beginners” directed by Mike Mills for Best Feature and Best Ensemble Performance; “Better This World” directed by Kelly Duane and Katie Galloway for Best Documentary; and “Girlfriend” directed by Justin Lerner for Audience Choice Award.
“Pariah” is about a teen who is at a crossroads in life where she must choose between what she wants and the path her parents created for her.
At home, 17-year-old Alike (Adepero Oduye) is a sweet and soft-spoken girl who does her best to adhere to her mother’s (Kim Wayans) desires. But the teen is hiding something. Alike is a lesbian, and with her best friend Laura (Pernell Walker) she slips out to downtown dance clubs to express her sexuality. But she’s still timid about delving deep into her curiosity.
As she becomes more mature, Alike is torn between living the sheltered life her parents want for her, the club-hopping lifestyle Laura has already embraced, or something that lies in between, like her neighbor Bina (Aasha Davis). Pariah was the first feature film from writer and director Dee Rees, who adapted the story from her award-winning short film of the same name. Pariah was an official selection at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.