This will be the filmmaker’s first project since his indie sleeper hit Moonlight took home Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards. Jenkins reportedly wrote the screenplay adaptation for Baldwin’s novel during the summer in 2013 in which he also penned Moonlight. The filmmaker is working with the Baldwin Estate to bring the film to life as well as re-teaming with Plan B and PASTEL as producers.
If Beale Street Could Talk follows Tish, “a newly engaged Harlem woman who races against the clock to prove her lover’s innocence while carrying their first born child.” It is a story of love, justice, family, and the promise of the American Dream.
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. “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.
“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,” Baldwin’s sister Gloria Karefa Smart revealed in a statement.
Jenkins is currently working on a television adaptation of the Colson Whitehead novel The Underground Railroad for Amazon. This will be his first time working with Annapurna, a production company that only recently got into the distribution game. Their first release will be Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, another film that looks to poignantly examine race in America.
Annapurna plans to begin production on the film in October.