Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to Dee Rees’ Sundance opening night drama and commissioned the director to write a separate original screenplay.

Rees’ feature directorial debut premiered on Jan 20 and is an expansion of his short film of the same name that screened at Sundance in 2008. Adepero Oduye plays a Brooklyn lesbian who tries to find her place in the world. 

Focus is working with Rees on a separate screenplay based on an idea she will conceive.

Nekisa Cooper produced and Spike Lee served as executive producer on Pariah alongside Jeff Robinson, Sam Martin, Mary Jane Skalski, Susan Lewis, Ann Bradley, Stefan Nowicki, Benjamin Weber, Joey Carey, Julie Parker Benello, Wendy Ettinger, Judith Hefland, Douglas A Eisenberg and Matthew J Simon.

  • Roadside Attractions acquired North American rights to Miranda July’s The Future, a story about a couple that drifts apart and is narrated by a cat. Roadside said it planned a “substantial” theatrical release later this year and Lionsgate will handle ancillary. UTA brokered the deal on behalf of the filmmakers. In an unconfirmed report, Fox Searchlight has expanded its deal for Another Earth and now has worldwide rights after acquiring English-speaking territories earlier in the week.
  • In an unrelated deal, New Video has acquired US DVD, VOD and digital rights to London and LA-based Studio Lambert’s financial crisis documentary The Flaw, with plans for a limited theatrical run. British filmmaker David Sington directed and Christopher Hird, Luke Johnson and Stephen Lambert produced.
  • Meanwhile the Sundance Institute announced that Mike Cahill’s crowd-pleaser Another Earth has been awarded the 2011 Alfred P Sloan Feature Film Prize at the festival.

The prize carries a $20,000 cash award by the Alfred P Sloan Foundation and is awarded to a film that focuses on science or technology as a theme, or depicts a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character.

Brit Marling and William Mapother star in the story of an MIT astrophysics student who is responsible for the death of two people in a car accident and pins her hopes of redemption on a contest to visit a mirror planet.

The committee commended the film “for its original use of subtly rendered scientific concept – the sudden appearance of an alternate Earth where everyone may be living parallel lives and destinies – to explore the themes of remorse and forgiveness.”

Fox Searchlight acquired English-speaking rights earlier in the week.