James Arthur Baldwin was a man who wasn’t afraid to shake up the system. His work and his words continue to uplift, inspire, and reckon with the systemic oppression of black folks across the globe. It’s a shame that his life and legacy hasn’t been developed for the silver screen – but this may soon change.

According to Shadow & Act, Haitian filmmaker and political activist, Raoul Peck has not only been developing a feature length documentary about Baldwin, but has been working on the project for the last six years and for good reason.

See, Peck is more than just a devoted fan of James Baldwin. He credits Baldwin’s literary work for some of the ideologies he’s valued as an adult and has even said that “Baldwin is my life.”

With the rights to all of Baldwin’s writings and the full cooperation of the Baldwin estate, Peck has been carefully taking his time to create what he calls “a very creative documentary.” The film will center around the idea of a book that Baldwin never wrote but, began developing before his death. The lives of the late Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. were to be the main focus of the book. At the time Baldwin believed comprising the novel would be difficult but, Peck has decided to take on that challenge and adapt it for the feature film that Baldwin so rightly deserves.

“The starting point of the film is to say – yes, he wrote it. He just didn’t bind it together, but if you go through his work, the film is there.”

With only 30 pages of notes from Baldwin’s estate regarding the unwritten book to work with, Peck has unquestionably been putting in overtime to flesh out the pieces of Baldwin’s story that we may not know. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait until Baldwin’s next birthday to finally see the revealing of this documentary project.

Photo: tumblr
Photo: Tumblr

What are some of your favorite works from James Baldwin? Share your selections in the comments.

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