When you read James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’, primal images leap from the page. This Harlem-set tale offers a bristling snapshot of youthful romance dashed against the rocks of a legal framework weighed in favour of affluent white folk. Fonny and Tish are madly in love, but he has been arrested on a bum rap and is fighting for a future which, he discovers, will include a baby.
Barry Jenkins approaches the work of his literary hero with a delicate yet decisive touch, producing an unspeakably moving (and stealthily political) love story in which tragedy and triumph jostle for supremacy. In this issue, we spoke to Jenkins about the mammoth task of transposing Baldwin’s prose to the big screen.
On the cover…
A portrait of Kiki Layne by Bijou Karman, an artist and illustrator from Los Angeles. Unique faces, strong women, nostalgia, flora and the California landscape all inspire her work. The styles of the early 1970s figure heavily into Karman’s repertoire, so If Beale Street Could Talk was a natural pick for her. She enjoys painting vintage patterns, fashion and hairstyles just like Tish’s look in the film. Bijou hand painted the cover, creating an image that evokes the sad but beautiful feeling of the film.
Artists featured in this issue include…
Laurène Boglio, Jude Labuca, Nick Taylor, Sophie Mo and Simon Hayes, with photography by Liz Seabrook.
Inside this issue…
On If Beale Street Could Talk Tayler Montague offers a personal reflection on Barry Jenkins’ latest opus.
In My Heart: A conversation with Barry Jenkins The Oscar-winning writer/director explains how he cracked James Baldwin with his wonderful new film, If Beale Street Could Talk.
This Is Love Keith Uhlich writes in praise of James Baldwin’s volume of poetic film criticism, ‘The Devil Finds Work’.
On the Shoulders of Giants Actor Colman Domingo on how he fell hard for the writings of James Baldwin.
A Theory of Black Aesthetics RaMell Ross, the director of Hale County This Morning, This Evening, offers a new way to capture black lives on film.
Journeys special: Indie Memphis Gabrielle Ralambo-Rajerison charts a bold new direction for this Southern celebration of modern indie cinema.
Harlem Shuffle Accompany Mark Asch on a whirlwind tour through the cinematic streets of Harlem, NYC.
Soul Music Selections Ten supremely soulful wax platters and how they made their way to the movie screen, as selected by Caroline Golum
Nicholas Britell: Track by Track The composer tells the story of his If Beale Street Could Talk and Moonlight soundtracks.
Fly Posters We delve into the Separate Cinema Archive to look at a selection of American movie posters from the early 1970s.
Threads Christina Newland looks at the importance of the iconic prison jumpsuit on film.