For his feature follow-up to the Oscar-winning Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins will be adapting James Baldwin.
Jenkins will helm If Beale Street Could Talk, which he adapted from the author’s 1974 novel that is set in ‘70s Harlem and follows young engaged couple Fonny and Tish. When Fonny is falsely accused of rape, Tish, who is pregnant with their child, races to find evidence that will prove Fonny’s innocence.
Annapurna Pictures will finance and produce the adaptation, along with Moonlight production company Plan B. The movie marks the first feature under the production pact between Jenkins’ Pastel Pictures and Annapurna, which is currently gearing up for the release of the Kathryn Bigelow drama Detroit.
Production on the film is slated to begin in October.
Jenkins, who has worked closely with the Baldwin estate on the project, wrote the screenplay during the same summer in 2013 when he penned Moonlight.
“We are delighted to entrust Barry Jenkins with this adaptation,” Baldwin’s sister, Gloria Karefa-Smart, said in a statement. “Barry is a sublimely conscious and gifted filmmaker, whose [2008 film] Medicine for Melancholy impressed us so greatly that we had to work with him.”
Added Jenkins: “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.”
Jenkins, who won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay with Moonlight playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, is currently working on another adaptation. He is set to write and direct a limited series based on Colson Whitehead’s award-winning novel The Underground Railroad for Amazon.
Jenkins is repped by CAA, Silent R and Lichter Grossman.