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Mudbound director Dee Rees is set to write and direct the new film adaptation of the classic George and Ira Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess.
Set in a black Charleston, South Carolina neighborhood known as Catfish Row, Porgy and Bess was originally adapted from the DuBose Heyward‘s 1925 novel Porgy, centered around the tragic love story of a beggar named Porgy who tries to separate Bess from her abusive past lovers and drug lifestyle. Over the years, the novel’s also been adapted into stage plays and films. The late Diahann Carroll starred in the 1959 adaptation of the film, alongside Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier and Sammy Davis Jr. Recently, the Gershwin Estate granted the rights to the film to MGM.
Rees tells the film website Shadow and Act that she intends to bring the fictional characters to life “with actual historical and cultural roots, relevance, and consequence…that has been built and lived from the inside.” She continues, “By accessing the spirit of the lyrics as they’ve been conjured, reinterpreted, and rearranged by greats like Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, I’m most excited about inviting today’s brightest musical talents to lend new voice and spirit to both the joys and the frustrations of the ongoing struggle of African American citizens in this country.
In addition to 2017’s Oscar-nominated Mudbound, starring Mary J. Blige, Rees also directed 2011’s Pariah and HBO’s Bessie in 2015. Here most recent effort, The Last Thing He Wanted, debuts on Netflix later this month.
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