Writer/Director Dee Rees received high honors last night at the 21st Annual Gotham Awards when she was presented with the Breakthrough Director award for her lesbian coming of age story, Pariah.
Rees beat out Another Earth's Mike Cahill, Martha Marcy May Marlene's Sean Durkin, Higher Ground's Vera Farmiga and Bellflower's Evan Glodell to take home the honor.
Pariah focuses on Alike (played by Adepero Oduye), a 17-year-old African-American woman living with her parents and younger sister in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. Alike, along with her best friend (who is living out loud), navigates through the struggles of every day high school and home life, while trying to quietly embrace her identity as a lesbian.
The indie feature is no stranger to the awards circuit. Pariah premiered earlier this year at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, as an expansion of Rees’ award winning 2007 short film by the same title. While at Sundance, cinematographer Bradford Young was awarded for Excellence in Cinematography.
And on Tuesday, Pariah received two Independent Spirit Award nominations, one for the John Cassavetes Award for a feature budgeted at less than $500,000 (Dee Rees – Writer/Director, Nekisa Cooper - Producer) and the other for Best Female Lead (Adepero Oduye).