In celebration of Black History Month, we’re making daily movie recommendations, presented in chronological order of the films’ stories.
Stay tuned to Noovie every day as we highlight an original, landmark film worth revisiting or discovering for the first time.
February 23 – Pariah (2011)
Based on her award-winning 2007 short film, “Pariah” is writer-director Dee Rees’ (“Mudbound”) expanded, semi-autobiographical tale about a 17-year-old Brooklyn teen whose lesbian identity causes struggles with her religious mother and police detective father, and leads to self-discovery and a choice that will forever impact her future.
Executive produced by Spike Lee, “Pariah” debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and won the Excellence in Cinematography Award, and later played at the Toronto International Film Festival before its release on December 28, where it earned a 95% fresh rating with critics and 82% rating with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.
Alike (Adepero Oduye) is a 17-year-old African-American teen who lives in Brooklyn, and has yet to come out to her parents. She regularly hangs out with her openly gay friend Laura (Pernell Walker), but her strict mother Audrey (Kim Wayans) and her cop father Arthur (Charles Parnell) are both willfully ignorant of their daughter’s sexual identity. Her mom encouragers Alike to spend more time with her friend’s daughter Bina (Aasha Davis) from church, whom she assumes is straight.
As Bina and Alike’s friendship develops, though, so do sexual feelings between the pair. While Bina ultimately isn’t as willing to admit real love for Alike, the relationship does compel Alike to stand up for her right to be her true self, re-connect with her friend Laura, and separate from her family.
She heads off to college on the west coast on her own, secure in who she is, and her right to happiness.
The indie film earned a modest $769,552 at the box office, but was acclaimed on its release, earning an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead for Adepero Oduye. It was also listed as #6 on the list of the top 102 lesbian movies of all time, and earned Outstanding Independent Motion Picture at the 44thNAACP Image Awards.