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Gabourey Sidibe stars as Claireece "Precious" Jones in Lee Daniels" film. Chosen from among 500 contenders, the first-time actor "was a psych student and also a receptionist the day before the audition," as she told the CBC.

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Anne Marie Fox/Lionsgate Films

Director Lee Daniels is having a minute.

He"s sprawled on a creamy sofa in the gentle light of an upper-floor suite at the Four Seasons hotel in Toronto. The second movie he"s ever directed, Precious, is around to win the top award at the city"s prestigious global film festival. (The film brushed up up awards at Sundance and Cannes, also.)

Precious tells the unsparing story of a teenage girl in Harlem who"s obese, illiterate and also horribly absupplied. It"s based on a best-offering 1996 novel called Push, by the poet Sapphire. Daniels" adaptation is both harsh and also hauntingly beautiful. A galaxy of African-Amerihave the right to stars is lining as much as support the film, including the Queen of All Media herself, Oprah Winfrey.

Resplendent in a purple tunic, she collapses on the couch beside Daniels and also defines seeing Precious for the initially time.

"I had never checked out anypoint like that," she claims. "It was guttural. It was primal. It was — wow. That hit a nerve."

Precious comes out in November. The trailer offers a glimpse of Precious" convoluted fantasy life. She imagines herself a star, a BET dancer, a version through a light-skinned boyfrifinish, a white girl. These superficial desires are more important and complicated than you could intend. They feature as a refuge while Precious is being abused.


The villain in Precious is the girl"s terrifying mommy, a mean-eyed creature so slovenly you deserve to almost smell her. She"s complicit as soon as Precious is raped by her father — repeatedly. And the mother abuses Precious, also, emotionally, physically and sexually.

"I"m a small nervous about white world seeing this human being," Daniels claims. "Because — this is mine. This is my civilization."

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Farming up in West Philadelphia, Daniels kbrand-new family members favor the one in Precious. In particular, he remembers a little girl — a schoolmate — showing up at his house, naked and also bleeding.

"She sassist, "My mommy beat me, and also my mom"s going to kill me," " Daniels recalls. "And I"ll never before forget the feeling."

Daniels uncovered that feeling made eloquent when he review Sapphire"s novel. He readdressed to adapt it as a movie that expressed the book"s vivid energy-- and its emphatically queer personalities, specifically the dedicated teacher that transforms Precious" life.

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"In my society, homosexuality is looked down upon," he states. "This hero, she"s a lesbian, and I kbrand-new that would upcollection many that look dvery own on lesbianism."

Over the past two decades, Daniels has actually climbed up the Hollytimber food chain — from manufacturing assistant to spreading director to producer of the 2001 film Monster"s Ball, which scored the first Academy Award for a babsence leading actress. Still, he was required to cash in all his chips to raise $3 million to film Precious.


"C"mon," he scoffs in answer to a reporter"s question. "Who wants to finance a movie around a 300-pound babsence girl?"

It does require the perseverance of a Tyler Perry. If Oprah is the Queen of All Media, Perry is its Do-It-Yourself King. Far off the Hollytimber grid, at his huge studio in Atlanta, Perry produces, writes, directs and stars in boisterous lowbrow comedies — including Madea"s Family Reunion and also the recently released I Can Do Bad All By Myself — that have earned more than $400 million international.

But Perry wants to take his success making movies for a predominantly babsence female audience in a more major direction. He picked Precious as a start bereason he figured out through the major character.

"I was in a residence favor the one in Precious," Perry says of his childhood. His mother had actually to shield him from his abusive father"s violence. "She would certainly take me all over to defend me, so I visited hair salons, and I saw Lane Bryant, and I would certainly listen to all these women — you know, a little boy, listening. I soaked up everything."

Perry claims that"s why now he regularly tells women"s stories. After seeing a rough reduced of Precious, he automatically signed up as an executive producer. Then he acquired Winfrey to authorize up, also.