*Magnolia Pictures has picked up North American rights to “I Am Not Your Negro,” based on James Baldwin’s unfinished novel “Remember This House” and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.
The Baldwin estate entrusted director Raoul Peck with the author’s notes and unfinished, 30-page manuscript, considered one of the great incomplete works of American literature.
The book would have recounted the lives and assassinations of three of Baldwin’s friends, the civil rights icons Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The film adapts the 30 pages of the book that Baldwin wrote before his passing in 1987 into a tale of murders, martyrs, politics and race while taking a look at how racial and economic equality in the 1950s and 1960s has shaped attitudes about race in present day.
Baldwin wrote eloquently about racial issues and gay rights, and earned his place as a literary icon with such novels as “Giovanni’s Room” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” and the essays “Notes on a Native Son” and “The Fire Next Time.”
“James Baldwin has clearly become intellectually and politically unsurpassable – in fact, a visionary,” Peck said in a statement. “Ironically and tragically, he is becoming more so by the day. It is truly a pleasure to partner with such a great team to re-introduce James Baldwin to the American audience.”
The film will get a theatrical release.
The deal was negotiated by Magnolia co-EVP Dori Begley and SVP of acquisitions John Von Thaden with ICM Partners on behalf of the filmmakers. Wide House is representing international rights.
Below, the film’s official synopsis:
In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing an unavoidable endeavor he was about to embark on: the writing of his last book, Remember This House. The book would be an account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his friends — Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X. Their murders permanently traumatized an entire generation. James Baldwin was never able to go beyond 30 pages before he died.
The manuscript, Notes toward Remember This House, was entrusted to Raoul Peck by the executor of The James Baldwin Estate. Raoul Peck reclaims James Baldwin’s quest and will lead us along the complex political road of these three “memorable” lives, using only Baldwin’s own words.
By confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassinations of these three men we uncover a larger narrative of America’s historical and current denial and irrational relationship with race.
This “history of violence” (that Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X paid with their lives), the created image of what it means to be Black and the long simplified narrative that Hollywood recounts as a story between “good” and “evil” or “right and wrong,” reflects our current racial precariousness.