Newcomb Film Series opens up topic of female sexuality with ‘Pariah’

Julia Engel, Staff Reporter

As part of its Feminist Film Series, the Newcomb College Institute will be screening the untraditional film “Pariah” at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Newcomb Feminist Film Series has been aiming to give the Tulane Community a comprehensive outlook on current issues facing women since 2010. It is a project open to the Tulane community that focuses on showcasing female-oriented films that students, staff and faculty may not have the opportunity to see otherwise. The Series also features presentations by film industry professionals, professors and outside experts, as well as discussions following the film to create a holistic viewing experience. The event is free and will be held in Freeman Auditorium in the Woldenberg Art Center.

“Pariah” is a coming-of-age film centered around 17-year-old Alike, an African-American woman living in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Over the course of the film, Alike struggles with expressing her identity as a butch lesbian in the midst of her parents’ dysfunctional marriage. Alike’s mother Audrey disapproves of Alike’s openly-gay friend, Laura, assuming that Alike’s tendency to dress in men’s underwear and baggy clothes, and her outings to gay nightclubs are all a part of Laura’s influence on her daughter. In an effort to reform Alike and rekindle a relationship with her, Audrey presses her to make friends with a girl from their local church, Bina. In fact, Alike does take a great liking to Bina—just not in the way her mother had intended. The film narrates Alike’s wading through the waters of adolescence, both gracefully and gauchely.

Directed by Dee Rees, “Pariah” premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Adepero Oduye stars as Alike, giving a phenomenal performance. The Nigerian Cornell University graduate was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, and was awarded both the African-American Film Critics Association and Black Reel Award for Best Breakthrough Performance for her performance in “Pariah.”

The Newcomb Feminist Film Series will be showing two other films later in the semester, to be announced. Each film will focus on a different aspect of women’s rights: some raise the discussion of female sexual assault, while others will be discussing current issues in gender equality.