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'Moonlight' director Barry Jenkins will take on James Baldwin novel for his next film

 (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

After an awards season filled with kudos and the most dramatic Oscars night victory in history, just about any project "Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins would choose to direct next would be the subject of high anticipation. 

Now, hot off the triumph of his best picture Oscar win, Jenkins has set his follow-up project: "If Beale Street Could Talk," adapted from the 1974 novel of the same name by influential writer and social critic James Baldwin. 

The original story follows Tish, a young Harlem woman pregnant with her first child, on a mission to prove her wrongfully accused lover's innocence in 1950s New York City.

"It is so vividly human and so obviously based upon reality, that it strikes us as timeless," Joyce Carol Oates wrote in the New York Times in 1974.

"It is 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," described a joint announcement from Annapurna, PASTEL, and Plan B. 

Jenkins took home the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay in February with co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney for "Moonlight," their sublime and sensitively wrought coming-of-age tale of a black gay teenager growing up in Miami. 

The film was nominated for eight Oscars and took home three, including best picture and best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali.

Jenkins' film and Baldwin's legacy both had an effect the cinematic landscape last year when Raoul Peck's searing Oscar-nominated documentary. "I Am Not Your Negro" propelled Baldwin's writings on African American life back into the spotlight.

The "Moonlight" and "Medicine for Melancholy" helmer won the blessing of Baldwin's estate to bring "If Beale Street Could Talk" to the big screen after adapting it to script in 2013. Filming is set to begin in October. 

“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.”

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