As Variety reported, Barry Jenkins will be following up his Academy Award–winning Moonlight with a big screen adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk.
“James Baldwin is a man of and ahead of his time; his interrogations of the American consciousness have remained relevant to this day,” Jenkins said in a statement. “To translate the power of Tish and Fonny’s love to the screen in Baldwin’s image is a dream I’ve long held dear. Working alongside the Baldwin Estate, I’m excited to finally make that dream come true.”
Jenkins wrote the screenplay for the film back in the summer of 2013, around the same time he wrote Moonlight. Jenkins’ writing process was somewhat Baldwin-esque, as he moved to a European country (albeit for a short amount of time and not to explicitly escape American prejudice) to write.
If Beale Street Could Talk was published in 1974 and tells the story of a young couple living in Harlem—Fonny and Tish—who fall in love, become engaged, and conceive a child only to find that Fonny has been falsely accused of rape by a racist cop. The film is expected to begin production in October. It will be the first American big-screen adaptation of a Baldwin novel.
Jenkins will also direct and write an upcoming series based on Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad for Amazon. He most recently directed an episode of Netflix’s Dear White People.
Jenkins has repeatedly voiced his passion for and use of chopped and screwed hip-hop and R&B music. For this upcoming project, may we suggest this chopped and screwed version of SZA’s new album?