George Gershwin's opera will get a new movie treatment from the Mudbound filmmaker.

By Joey Nolfi
February 11, 2020 at 01:16 PM EST

Porgy and Bess

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Porgy and Bess is getting a vivid update from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Dee Rees.

The Mudbound and Pariah director will helm a new adaptation of George Gershwin‘s 1935 Broadway opera, which Otto Preminger previously brought to the big screen in 1959 with stars Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge and music by lyricist Ira Gershwin.

Based on DuBose Heyward’s 1925 novel Porgy, the tale follows a disabled beggar who attempts to save a young woman from her violent lover amid the slums of Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina. Rees explained her vision for the project in a recent Deadline interview, stating her intention to remain true to the love story at the narrative’s center while re-staging it “at a place and moment of resistance.”

“With the help of a terrific artistic team, my vision is to invest this community with a new agency and re-locate the characters from a fictional landscape mostly viewed from the outside to a real geography with actual historical and cultural roots, relevance, and consequence and that has been built and lived from the inside,” Rees continued, adding that she’d invite “today’s brightest musical talents” to perform the story’s classic songs to highlight “the ongoing struggle of African American citizens” in the United States.

Following her successful awards season run with Netflix’s 2017 festival breakout Mudbound, for which she received an Oscar nod for Best Adapted Screenplay, Rees will next release a big-screen adaptation of Joan Didion’s novel The Last Thing He Wanted starring Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, and Willem Dafoe.

“Didion’s prose is so internal, and this is such a character deep-dive,” Rees told EW of the film ahead of its Sundance world premiere in January. “[With] Mudbound, I was starting from a script. The book itself wasn’t one I would’ve chosen. This was a book of choice: It’s small but dense. It had that density where it felt like there was more to blow out.”

A release date and casting information for Rees’ take on Porgy and Bess have yet to be announced.

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Porgy and Bess

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