Barry Jenkins, director of the Oscar-winning feature film Moonlight, has plans to bring more black excellence to the screen in the form of a screen adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk, a novel by celebrated author James Baldwin.
Deadline reports that the upcoming movie was already in development in May when Jenkins inked his two-film deal with Annapurna Pictures, which is financing the project.
The novel, written by Baldwin in 1974, tells the story of Fonny and Tish, an engaged couple living in Harlem in the 1970s. When Fonny is falsely accused of rape, a pregnant Tish does all she can to find evidence that will prove his innocence.
Jenkins worked closely with Baldwin’s estate on the project and wrote the screenplay during the summer of 2013, when he also wrote Moonlight, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Gloria Karefa-Smart, Baldwin’s sister, said in a statement: “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.”
Jenkins added: “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.”
Along with Moonlight playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, Jenkins won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay. He is currently working on adapting Colson Whitehead’s award-winning novel The Underground Railroad into a limited series for Amazon.com, which he will both write and direct.
Production for If Beale Street Could Talk is set to begin in October.