Brow Beat

Barry Jenkins Celebrates James Baldwin’s Birthday With a Teaser for If Beale Street Could Talk

Barry Jenkins, the Oscar-winning writer and director of Moonlight, finally shared the first trailer for his next project, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk on Thursday. Baldwin was born on this day, August 2, in 1924.

If Beale Street Could Talk is Jenkins’ first major project since Moonlight and marks only the third time that one of James Baldwin’s works has been adapted for the screen: 2016’s I Am Not Your Negro was a documentary based on an unfinished Baldwin manuscript, while the 1998 French film À la Place du Coeur was another adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk. The original novel is set in Harlem in the 1970s, following Tish (played in Jenkins’ version by KiKi Layne) who is pregnant and trying to exonerate her fiancé, Alfonzo (Stephan James), who is jailed for a rape he didn’t commit. The cast also includes Regina King as Tish’s mother and Brian Tyree Henry, best known for Atlanta, as Alfonzo’s friend, Daniel.

“Once I read it, I just knew, this is a film. This is a film that I see, and I feel,” said Jenkins in an interview with fellow filmmaker Justin Simien. “There’s something about the language of Baldwin that reaches this level of literary awe that I’m always trying to capture cinematically.” Right now, the film is set to be released this fall by Annapurna Pictures, which is also responsible for Sorry to Bother You and Creed II.