Dee Rees is an alumna of New York University’s graduate film program and a 2008 Sundance Screenwriting & Directing Lab Fellow. She has written and directed several short films, including Orange Bow (centering on a teenage boy) and Pariah. The latter, completed in 2007, screened at over 40 festivals worldwide (including Sundance) and garnered 25 Best Short awards. Additionally, Pariah was a finalist for the 2009 Sundance/NHK International Award. Ms. Rees was also selected as a 2008 Tribeca Institute/Renew Media Arts Fellow for her work; was chosen as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” for 2008; and was nominated for a USA Fellowship in 2009. Pariah has now been expanded into Pariah, which world-premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was honored with the Festival’s [U.S. Dramatic Competition] Excellence in Cinematography Award (Bradford Young).
The Nashville native’s most recent short film, Colonial Gods, aired on the BBC in the fall of 2009. The short chronicles a complicated friendship between a Somali man and a Nigerian man, set against the backdrop of gentrification in the small immigrant community in Cardiff, Wales known as Tiger Bay.
Also prior to making Pariah, Ms. Rees directed a documentary feature, Eventual Salvation. The film, which she also edited, received a 2007 Sundance Documentary Fund Grant and premiered on the Sundance Channel in October 2009. It follows her grandmother’s return to Liberia on to help rebuild a community following the country’s civil war.
Dee wrote and directed the 2015 HBO movie, Bessie, starring Queen Latifah as blues legend Bessie Smith. Bessie premiered on HBO Summer 2015 and proceeded to win four Primetime Emmy Awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie. In addition, Rees was nominated for writing and directing the film.
Dee has directed episodes of Fox’s Empire as well as the upcoming mini-series, When We Rise, chronicling the gay-rights movement in the United States. Rees is also slated to write and direct the post WWII drama, Mudbound, staring Carey Mulligan and Garrett Hedlund.
Grant Winning Project: PARIAH