The Oscar winner will adapt James Baldwin’s ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’

By Devan Coggan
July 10, 2017 at 01:58 PM EDT

Just a few months after his Oscar Best Picture win for Moonlight, Barry Jenkins has set his next film project.

The writer-director has signed on to helm If Beale Street Could Talk for Annapurna, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel. Set in Harlem, Beale Street tells the story of a recently engaged and pregnant woman named Tish, who fights to prove the innocence of her imprisoned lover, Fonny.

“James Baldwin is a man of and ahead of his time; his interrogations of the American consciousness have remained relevant to this day,” Jenkins said in a statement. “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.”

Beale Street has long been a passion project for Jenkins, and he first wrote the screenplay in summer 2013 — the same period in which he wrote Moonlight. He’s since secured the approval of the Baldwin Estate.

“We are delighted to entrust Barry Jenkins with this adaptation,” Baldwin’s sister, Gloria Karefa-Smart, said. “Barry is a sublimely conscious and gifted filmmaker, whose Medicine for Melancholy impressed us so greatly that we had to work with him.”

Jenkins is also working on an adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s 2016 novel The Underground Railroad, adapting it into a one-hour limited series for Amazon.

Production on If Beale Street Could Talk will begin in October 2017.