Screenwriter Dee Rees is to heart-rending films about black lesbians as producer Jason Blum is to eerily relevant social horror movies ― and the two are joining forces for what should be a one-of-a-kind movie that speaks to the terror of homophobia, sexism and racism, at the very least.
Rees is the director of the 2011 Sundance film “Pariah,” about a young black lesbian coming to terms with her sexuality and familial rejection, and the Golden Globe-nominated biopic “Bessie” about 1920s queer blues singer Bessie Smith. Blum produced the second highest-grossing R-rated horror film in North American history with 2017’s “Get Out,” a social thriller that intertwines components of the genre with the experience of being black in America.
Both have mastered the art of using cinema as insight into painful everyday American realities, and, according to a New York Times Magazine article published Thursday, will soon be combining their storytelling talents.
Blum, who is a fan of Rees’ critically acclaimed Sundance movie “Mudbound,” said Rees recently pitched a horror film centered on a black lesbian couple who just moved to the countryside together, and he was all for it.
They met at a recent event in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel Air, where both gave speeches to a room of Sundance Institute benefactors. After Rees and Blum both spoke to the other’s brilliance, they connected after Blum’s speech for a meeting of minds.
Rees’ pitch to Blum went as follows: “You’ve got me and my wife, two black lesbians, and when we first moved in, we fought every day over all these little things: ‘Why is this over there? Did you move that?’ ” she said.
“Maybe it was a ghost,” Rees continued. “Or maybe it was some other force — like us not wanting to be there or fitting in. Anyway, that’s my horror-movie pitch,” Rees said.
Blum was sold. Just a few weeks later, the two met for lunch and began talking business.
“I can’t tell you how rare it is that people mean what they say in this business,” Rees told writer Ryan Bradley of Blum. “He’s just letting me make the best possible version of what I want to make.”
We don’t know how long this will take, but in the meantime, let’s imagine Jordan Peele is somewhere satisfying a screenwriting itch.