Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney Teaming Up To Make Film About Liberty City

Categories: Film and TV
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photo by George Martinez
Liberty City native turned Hollywood filmmaker Barry Jenkins
For years, Miami has been a movie wasteland. Despite stellar recent shorts by local filmmakers like Lucas Leyva, Jillian Mayer, and the rest of the Borscht family, good full-length films are as rare as snowflakes in the Magic City. (Renting Snow Dogs, Miami Vice, or Marley & Me is the cinematic equivalent of eating a hot pocket: open package, insert directly in toilet.)

But Miami may soon get the feature film treatment it deserves. According to Indiewire, Liberty City natives Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney are teaming up to bring their neighborhood to the big screen.

"Barry is a great guy, a fantastic artist and [is] becoming a dear collaborator," McCraney tells Cultist<. "I sent him a script and we've been working to figure out its next incarnation."

McCraney's screenplay will be set in Liberty City and directed by Jenkins.

The two grew up blocks from each other in the neighborhood, Jenkins told Indiewire. He added that an early version of the script was "halfway between the stage and the screen" when Borscht offered to help produce the project. Jenkins confirmed the news to Cultist but declined to discuss the collaboration.

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Tarell Alvin McCraney
​​The project promises to be a collaboration between two of Miami's most powerful storytellers. As we reported in a feature on Jenkins last year, he is a former Northwestern High School track and football star who struck gold with his first film, Medicine for Melancholy.

McCraney has achieved equal success. The New World School of the Arts grad made his name with his highly acclaimed "The Brother/Sister Series" of plays. Last year, New Timesbest director for his outstanding The Brothers Size.

Jenkins is now involved in a number of big studio projects, including directing part of the graphic novel miniseries A Contract With God. But when we profiled Jenkins last year, he admitted that he was considering finally turning his filmmaker's eye on his home town:
Only now -- more than a decade after leaving -- is Jenkins finally making sense of Miami. And only now is he ready to re-create it onscreen, race riots and all.

"In San Francisco, people come up to me all the time and say, 'Thank you for making a movie that shows the city like it really is,'" Jenkins says. "But I'm not from San Francisco."

He pauses, looking out over the city he swore he'd never move back to. Yet Chlorophyl has kicked up some ideas for a film shot nowhere less than Liberty City.

"I want to make Medicine for Miami," he says. "Now, maybe I will."


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