Pariah reveals the queer black female experience of a young girl, Alike (Adepero Oduye), trying to break free from the heterosexist bounds of society.
During the week, Alike is acing tests in high-school, but over the weekend she sneaks out with her openly-lesbian friend, Laura, to go to a club in Brooklyn, where girls dance on poles in risqué outfits. Weekend after weekend, she slips into her house past curfew, and each night her mother scolds her, suspicious of her daughter’s interests.
The dynamic between Alike and her religious Christian mother, Audrey, is key to the development of Rees’ story. Her mother questions her tom-boy appearance, her lack of interest in boys at school and her friendship with Laura, whom she finds questionable. Alike tries to turn a blind eye to this speculation as much as she can, but when she’s confronted in a heated argument between her mother and her father, she doesn’t hide.
Rees’ portrayal of an African American queer female in a Western society is brutally honest and gut-wrenching at times, but Alike’s strength, as displayed by her powerful poem, is freeing.
director DEE REES
director of photography BRADFORD YOUNG
cast ADEPERO ODUYE, AASHA DAVIS, CHARLES PARNELL, KIM WAYANS and PERNELL WALKER
words PRIYESH PATEL
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