Barry Jenkins' adaptation of 'If Beale Street Could Talk' to premiere at Harlem’s Apollo Theater during New York Film Festival
'If Beale Street Could Talk' will be premiering in the same neighborhood that James Baldwin, who wrote the novel on which the film is based, grew up in and where the story is set
Barry Jenkins, best known for winning the Academy Award for Best Picture for directing 'Moonlight,' is set to premiere his feature film adaptation of James Baldwin's 1974 novel 'If Beale Street Could Talk' at Harlem's world famous Apollo Theater. The film will have a red carpet premiere on Tuesday, October 9 as part of the 56th New York Film Festival that is being presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Poetically, the film will be premiering in the same neighborhood that Baldwin grew up in and where the story is set. Furthermore, to make the occasion even more special, the feature will mark the first time in the 56-year history of the Film Society of Lincoln Center presenting the NY Film Festival that there will be a main-slate screening outside the confines of the Lincoln Center campus.
In addition to Jenkins and a cast consisting of KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Colman Domingo and others, Harlem community members and high school students will be invited to catch a sneak peek at 'If Beale Street Could Talk' and join in this homecoming as well.
The feature will follow the story of Trish, a newly engaged Harlem woman who races against the clock to prove her lover's innocence while carrying their first-born child to term. It will be a celebration of love told through the story of a young couple, their families, and their lives, trying to bring about justice through love, for love and the promise of the American dream. It was shot entirely in New York City in the fall of 2017, with production taking place in various Harlem locations.
"It's been an honor working with the estate to bring this piece of James Baldwin's legacy to the screen," said writer/director Barry Jenkins. "From the birthplace of Baldwin to the streets and homes within which we made this film, the honor is doubly felt in the NYFF's generous offer to widen its borders for our US premiere: up on 125th Street, in the community Jimmy forever knew as HOME."
Jenkins is referencing the fact that Baldwin was born at the Harlem Hospital on August 2, 1924, and then went on to spend most of his childhood at the local libraries in the neighborhood. The author would write his first article, 'Harlem - Then and Now' at the tender age of 13 for his junior high school's magazine before going on to pen several novels and becoming an accomplished novelist and social critic.
"We’ve always wanted to bring the New York Film Festival to more of our city, and I can’t imagine a better place to begin, or a better movie to begin with. Barry’s adaptation of 'If Beale Street Could Talk' is a brave and passionate film that looks unflinchingly at systematic racism in America," said NYFF Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones. "And it is 100% Harlem-based—shot in Harlem and based on a novel by a great American writer who was Harlem-born... So how could we possibly present it anywhere but the Apollo?"
Kamilah Forbes, Executive Producer, Apollo Theater, similarly said: "'If Beale Street Could Talk' is a timeless work of Black love set in Harlem. The Apollo Theater is thrilled to partner with the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Annapurna to premiere this important work in the community in which it was filmed."