Director Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk, the follow-up to last year's Best Picture Oscar-winner Moonlight, will start filming this fall.
Jenkins burst onto the list of high-profile directors with the knockout dramatic storytelling and emotional beauty of Moonlight, which received universal acclaim and won three Oscars, including the upset victory for Best Picture over La La Land. With that type of success, Jenkins has earned a ticket to work on whatever he wants for a while, as goodwill in Hollywood gets you at least two or three projects that you want to work with on your own. With his highly-anticipated follow-up, Jenkins has decided to pursue a passion project that he's been looking to make for years.
Per Variety, Jenkins has partnered with prestige picture financier and distributor Annapurna Pictures to work on an adaptation of the novel If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin. Jenkins wrote the screenplay for the film in the summer of 2013 at the same time that he wrote Moonlight, and has secured the blessings of the estate of the late Baldwin to adapt his work. The film adaptation, which has no cast or crew attached to this point, will start shooting in October.
If Beale Street Could Talk is a Harlem-set love story written in 1974 by Baldwin, who passed away in 1987. The film will follow Tish, a nineteen year old African-American woman who is newly engaged to her slightly older boyfriend Fonny. Fonny is accused of raping a Puerto Rican woman by a racist police officer and is jailed for the crime he did not commit. Tish not only loves Fonny, but is pregnant with his child and is determined to prove his innocence.
It's clear to see why this project is so appealing to Jenkins, as it's not only a classic work from an accomplished African-American performer but a story of love triumphing over racial injustice. It'll be a period piece, which allows Jenkins to flex his directorial style and play with set dressing, costuming, and soundtrack choices. It'll be interesting to see who he casts in the film, but given the acting discoveries he made to play the three acts of the protagonist in Moonlight, he seems to have an eye for undiscovered talent. Coming off a Best Picture win, he could surely court any actor he wanted with this powerful story.
Keep checking Screen Rant for casting information for If Beale Street Could Talk, which seems to be aiming for a 2018 release date.