Shadow and Act attended the world premiere of If Beale Street Could Talk at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) earlier this week.
Set in the early 1970s in Harlem, If Beale Street Could Talk is based on the novel by James Baldwin. This moving love story centers around a couple’s unbreakable bond and the empowering embrace of the African-American family, as told through the eyes of 19-year-old Clementine “Tish” Rivers (screen newcomer KiKi Layne). A wife-to be, Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that has connected her to her fiancé, artist Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James). Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dreams of a future together, but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Unexpectedly facing the the prospect of juggling parenthood while holding down a job without her partner, Tish is forced to adjust her perspective to suit the realities of her existence.
Through a unique intimacy created via the power of cinema, director and screenplay author Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk honors Baldwin’s prescient words and imagery. It poetically charts the emotional currents the characters are forced to navigate as a result of an unforgiving, racially biased world, while simultaneously showcasing how love and humanity can endure despite tempestuous circumstances.
When we caught up with the film’s stars, Stephan James discussed what it was like to be homegrown talent at TIFF. “It’s amazing. It’s such a crazy feeling to be back here with two incredible projects I’m so excited about,” he said. “It’s really a full-circle moment, coming from Scarborough.”
We also caught up with actress Teyonah Parris, who plays Tish’s sister, Ernestine Rivers. Check out our chat with Parris right here:
When we spoke with Barry Jenkins, we just had to bring up an awkward moment he recently discussed in a hilarious tweet. Jenkins tweeted about someone who asked him to sign a copy of their screenplay for the movie Widows, which also premiered at TIFF—obviously mistaking him for director Steve McQueen.
Somebody just asked me to sign a WIDOWS screenplay. DEAD pic.twitter.com/x6SHBAOXvH
— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) September 8, 2018
That said, we had to ask Jenkins this burning question: Did he actually sign McQueen’s screenplay?
“One, I was surprised someone had a script. And then I almost took the pen, but then looked down and was like, ‘No,'” he said, laughing.
Here’s more from our interview with Jenkins:
If Beale Street Could Talk officially hits U.S. theaters November 30, 2018. Check it out!