‘Moonlight’ Director Barry Jenkins’ New Movie Will Be a James Baldwin Adaptation

‘Moonlight’ Director Barry Jenkins’ New Movie Will Be a James Baldwin Adaptation

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After winning the Academy Award for Moonlight, the world’s been waiting for Barry Jenkins to announce his next project. That wait is now over — and his next project will be an adaptation of one of bisexual author’s James Baldwin’s novels.

If Beale Street Could Talk will be based on the James Baldwin novel of the same name. Written in 1974, Baldwin’s novel tells the story of Fonny and Tish, a couple in Harlem. Fonny has been falsely accused of rape — set up by Officer Bell, a racist cop. After Fonny goes to jail, Tish discovers she’s pregnant. She and her lawyer then work to find the evidence to exonerate Fonny before their baby is born.

There’s been a surge of popularity around James Baldwin lately. The documentary I Am Not Your Negro was nominated for an Oscar (it lost to O.J.: Made in America). A new book annotating Baldwin’s (massive) FBI File has also just come out. And, well, there’s the time Morrissey used the Baldwin quote “Black is how I feel on the inside” on a new shirt … but that’s a bit problematic to say the least.

Production on If Beale Street Could Talk will begin in October. Jenkins’s script was written at the same time as Moonlight. Jenkins is collaborating with the Baldwin estate. Gloria Karefa-Smart, Baldwin’s sister, told Variety “We are delighted to entrust Barry Jenkins with this adaptation. Barry is a sublimely conscious and gifted filmmaker, whose Medicine for Melancholy impressed us so greatly that we had to work with him.”

This isn’t Jenkins’ only project in the works. He’s also working on The Underground Railroad, an hourlong drama series for Amazon. His series will be based on Colson Whitehead’s book of the same name. This will be Jenkins’s first television project — though he previously directed an episode of Dear White People for Netflix.

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