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Barry Jenkins, the Oscar-winning writer-director of Moonlight, has revealed the trailer for his much-anticipated new film If Beale Street Could Talk.
It’s an adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel and Jenkins shared the first footage on Twitter to coincide with what would have been the author’s 94th birthday. The plot follows Tish and Fonny, a couple torn apart by a false rape accusation. As Tish prepares to give birth to her child, she must find evidence to free Fonny.
It stars newcomer Kiki Layne and Race star Stephan James as the central duo, with Chi-Raq’s Teyonnah Parris, The Leftovers’ Regina King and Atlanta’s Bryan Tyree Henry in support. Jenkins wrote the screenplay at the same time as he wrote Moonlight in 2013.
Jenkins’ critically acclaimed drama about the life of a gay man in Miami became the first film with an all-black cast and an LGBT lead to win the best picture Oscar in 2017. Jenkins also won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay with Tarell Alvin McCraney, who he showed an early cut of Beale Street to earlier this year.
“Tarell made this beautiful comment after seeing a cut of the film,” Jenkins said in April. “He’s like: ‘Oh, you made this New York. It’s not a New York of places. It’s a New York of faces.’ I think the faces that existed in the time of Baldwin are still present in the New York I see today and the New York that we made this film.”
In 1974, Baldwin spoke to the Guardian about his book. “Every poet is an optimist,” he said to Hugh Hebert. But on the way to that optimism “you have to reach a certain level of despair to deal with your life at all”.
The film will have its global premiere at the Toronto film festival with an Oscar-aiming US release following on 30 November and a UK bow on 18 January. Jenkins is next set to tackle an adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad for Amazon.
This article originally appeared in The Guardian.