Barry Jenkins is one of the most in-demand filmmakers working today. I guess that’s what happens after you write and direct two of the best films of the last several years in “If Beale Street Could Talk” and the Oscar-winning “Moonlight.” And now, it appears that the filmmaker is teaming up with Leonardo DiCaprio for a new narrative feature adaptation of the award-winning doc, “Virunga.”
According to Deadline, Jenkins has signed on to write the script for the new film, based on the documentary “Virunga” from director Orlando von Einsiedel. The doc, which was nominated for an Oscar, follows rangers that are risking their lives in Africa’s national park to protect gorillas. We recently named “Virunga” as one of the Best Documentaries of the 2010s. The new film will also be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and his production company, Appian Way.
When discussing the film as part of our Best Docs of the 2010s feature, we described “Virunga” as “essential viewing” and said the film is “a scathing indictment of political and corporate venality; a powerful eco-portrait of an endangered habitat and the last mountain gorillas in the world that it shelters; a deep-dive examination of the social legacy of some of the most devastating (and underreported) conflicts of our time.”
As mentioned, Jenkins is one of the best filmmakers working today, with his most recent features as the best examples. However, he’s also one of the busiest, as well. He’s currently finishing up his long-awaited “Underground Railroad” series for Amazon, which he wrote and directed. And after he’s done with that, he’s expected to begin work on his biopic about famed choreographer Alvin Ailey.
It’s still too early to know when we might see the new adaptation of the doc arrive in theaters or wherever it’ll end up. But this is definitely a project we’ll be anxiously awaiting.
Here’s the trailer for the original film, which can be streamed on Netflix: