Alvin Ailey biopic

Barry Jenkins is ready for his If Beale Street Could Talk follow-up. The acclaimed filmmaker will helm a biopic of Alvin Ailey, the African-American choreographer and activist who helped popularize modern dance. Fox Searchlight will distribute, so I hope that means they’ll use their sweet Disney money to properly promote the film and get bigger audiences to see it – something that didn’t happen with the incredible Beale Street.

The Wrap is reporting the news about the Alvin Ailey biopic from Barry Jenkins and Fox Searchlight. Searchlight closed a deal with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which controls the rights to Ailey’s choreography. The deal also included the rights to Alvin Ailey: A Life In Dance by Jennifer Dunning. Here’s the synopsis of that book:

Alvin Ailey (1931–1989) was a choreographic giant in the modern dance world and a champion of African-American talent and culture. His interracial Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater provided opportunities to black dancers and choreographers when no one else would. His acclaimed “Revelations” remains one of the most performed modern dance pieces in the twentieth century. But he led a tortured life, filled with insecurity and self-loathing. Raised in poverty in rural Texas by his single mother, he managed to find success early in his career, but by the 1970s his creativity had waned. He turned to drugs, alcohol, and gay bars and suffered a nervous breakdown in 1980. He was secretive about his private life, including his homosexuality, and, unbeknownst to most at the time, died from AIDS-related complications at age 58.Now, for the first time, the complete story of Ailey’s life and work is revealed in this biography.

Jenkins and company will work with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Robert Battle and Artistic Director Emerita, Judith Jamison, to bring Ailey’s life and work to life on the big screen. Julian Breece, who wrote the Netflix series When They See Us, is handling the script.

I’ll confess I know next to nothing about Alvin Ailey, but I’m excited to see what Jenkins does with material like this. He’s proven himself to be one of the best filmmakers working right now, and he excels at capturing emotion in poetic, romantic ways. I have no doubt he’ll bring something unique to this. I just hope people pay attention to it. I thought Jenkins’s previous film, If Beale Street Could Talk, was a bonafide masterpiece. But the movie didn’t generate nearly as much buzz as I was expecting – something that seems to be a reoccurring problem for Beale Street‘s distributor Annapurna Pictures.

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