Barry Jenkins is adapting James Baldwin for his next film

The Moonlight writer/director is set to helm the Harlem love story If Beale Street Could Talk.


Josh Howey


Six months after the controversially announced but fully deserved Best Picture win for Moonlight, writer/director Barry Jenkins has set his sights on bringing James Baldwin’s novel ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ to the screen.

The adaptation will reunite Jenkins with Moonlight production company Plan B as well as Annapurna Pictures. The script was penned by Jenkins back in 2013, the same summer he wrote Moonlight, and will be the third feature in his small but outstanding filmography, which also includes 2008’s Medicine for Melancholy

With support from the Baldwin Estate, the film will remain faithful to the source material, which Jenkins says he has “long held dear”. Based in 1970s Harlem, New York the story follows the journey of a young pregnant woman named Tish, as she endeavours to prove her lover Fonny’s innocence of the rape charges falsely brought against him. The strength of Tish and Fonny’s love will need to withstand their dysfunctional families, not to mention the social and racial difficulties of the time.

If Beale Street Could Talk will be the first major adaptation of a James Baldwin novel since the 1984 made-for-TV movie Go Tell It on the Mountain. The late American author, essayist and social critic was recently the subject of a documentary profile, I Am Not Your Negro.

This being his first feature as an Oscar-winning filmmaker, there will be considerably more expectation on Jenkins to deliver, though his flair for dramatic and romantic tension will no doubt aid him in this effort. We’re certainly expecting big things from one of Hollywood’s most exciting talents.

Published 11 Jul 2017

Tags: Barry Jenkins James Baldwin

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