We now know what Barry Jenkins’ first feature film adaption after Moonlight will be.
According to Variety, he will direct an adaption of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk for Annapurna Pictures. This is another coup for Annapurna’s distribution, which also has the Kathryn Bigelow-directed Detroit set for release next month.
Baldwin’s novel revolves around a pregnant 19-year-old Harlem woman and her 22-year-old fiance. After he is falsely accused of raping another woman, she, her family and their lawyer work to prove his innocence.
For years, Jenkins has talked about his admiration of Baldwin and his desire to adapt Beale Street. He wrote the screen adaption for the novel when he wrote Moonlight. He told Esquire, “Beale Street I wrote in Berlin. Moonlight I wrote in Belgium. I wrote it without the rights because again, in some ways, it was a reaction to putting so much energy in the commercial company. No matter how much you convince yourself, that kind of work purely about making money. I said, Well, I’m going to just do exactly what I want to do. I love this book. I love this play. I’m going to write those things, and I’ll fucking figure it out after. Yeah, I mean, here it is three years later. I still don’t have the rights to the book, as I shouldn’t. Mr. Baldwin’s only been adapted once. This would only be the second time. It’s a big deal. It’s a big responsibility. But because of the success of Moonlight in the marketplace, the estate has seen the film. And I think in that film they can see my intentions with Beale Street, so it’s on the horizon. I don’t have the rights, but it’s on the horizon.”
But, now he’s got them.
Baldwin’s sister, Gloria-Karefa-Smart said, “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.”
Since Moonlight, Jenkins has directed a critically-acclaimed episode of Netflix’s Dear White People and is set to direct an Amazon miniseries based on The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.
Production on If Beale Street Could Talk is set to kick off in October.