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Barry Jenkins to direct Alvin Ailey biopic

Barry Jenkins to direct Alvin Ailey biopic
Barry Jenkins (Photo credit: Bang Media)

Barry Jenkins is set to direct an Alvin Ailey biopic.

The 39-year-old filmmaker — who is best known for his work on critically acclaimed LGBT-themed drama Moonlight in 2016 and Oscar-nominated 2018 film If Beale Street Could Talk — has signed on to helm the upcoming film about the iconic choreographer for Fox Searchlight.

The project, which includes the rights to Jennifer Dunning’s biography Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance, was first announced in 2018 and will see Julian Breece pen the script while singer-songwriter Alicia Keys is producing.

The untitled project will chronicle Ailey’s life from his humble beginnings in rural Texas living with his single mother, to performing with the Horton Dance Company and several Broadway shows, before founding the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958. Ailey is the creator of one of the most-performed modern dance pieces in history, “Revelations.”

A decade after founding Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, which aimed to provide access to arts and dance to under-resourced communities.

Despite keeping his own sexuality secret from the public, the choreographer often displayed male and female homosexuality in his works.

In 1988, a year before he died at the age of 58 from AIDS-related complications, Ailey was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors.

And, in 2014, President Barack Obama selected Ailey as a posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Also producing is Susan Lewis from AK Worldwide Productions, Judy Kinberg, Rachel Cohen and Jana Edelbaum from iDeal Partners,  all of whom will team up with the dance company’s artistic director Robert Battle and artistic director emerita Judith Jamison.

Jenkins is set to serve as executive producer alongside Lewis and Edelbaum.

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