Barry Jenkins has announced his first feature film since Moonlight’s notorious Oscar win earlier this year.
If Beale Street Could Talk is an adaptation of a 1974 James Baldwin novel which centres around Tish and Fonny, a newly engaged couple in Harlem with a baby on the way. Fonny is falsely accused of rape by a racist policeman and is sent to jail. Tish then races against the clock to prove Fonny’s innocence before their child is born.
Jenkins wrote the screenplay in the same summer he wrote Moonlight in 2013, and since then has been working with Baldwin’s sister – the novelist himself died in 1987 – to bring the story to the big screen.
Baldwin’s sister, Gloria Karefa-Smart, says: “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 described his excitement at fulfilling his dream: “James Baldwin is a man of and ahead of his time; his interrogations of the American consciousness have remained relevant to this day.
“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.”
If Beale Street Could Talk was previously adapted in 1998 for the French film À la place du Coeur, which translates to Where the Heart Is.
Production on Barry Jenkins’ adaptation is expected to start in October 2017.