Barry Jenkins Is Set to Direct an Untitled Film about Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey and Carmen de LavalladePhoto by Jack Mitchell. (©) Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Inc. and Smithsonian Institution

Barry Jenkins and Fox Searchlight will bring Alvin Ailey's life and work to the screen.

Fox Searchlight announced yesterday, June 3rd, that Barry Jenkins will direct an untitled film about choreographer Alvin Ailey. The film will focus on his life and work as the founder of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Jenkins previously brought Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk to critical acclaim, and the top brass at Alvin Ailey believe he is a perfect fit for film.

“Judith Jamison and I are thrilled that Academy Award-winner Barry Jenkins will be directing Fox Searchlight’s major motion picture on Alvin Ailey, an American trailblazer who broke down barriers and opened doors for others,” said Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Robert Battle in press materials.  “It’s also very meaningful that Barry – someone who grew up just streets away from me in Liberty City and who, like Alvin Ailey, knows personally how the arts can change lives – will be bringing this seminal story to the screen.”

The Ailey organization controls the rights to Alvin Ailey’s choreography, and Fox Searchlight and the producers of the film will work closely with Battle and Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison to tell Alvin Ailey’s unique story and recreate his inspiring choreography for the screen.

This year marks the Ailey’s 60th anniversary and the announcement comes just a week before the Company’s Lincoln Center season in New York City that will feature a variety of programs to celebrate Alvin Ailey’s lasting influence. The season will culminate on June 16th with an evening honoring dance icon and Alvin Ailey’s close friend Carmen de Lavallade.

Julian Breece (When They See Us) will write the script. Fox Searchlight has also secured the rights to the seminal biography Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance by Jennifer Dunning.

Alicia Keys is a producer, and Jenkins is also an executive producer.

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