French director Maimouna Doucour (Cuties, air) has signed on to write and direct a new biopic of American-born French icon Josephine Baker.
StudioCanal and Bien Au Bien Productions are set to produce the film in association with CPB Films, with principal photography expected to begin next year. The project is being developed with the support of Jean-Claude Boulon Baker and Brian Boulon Baker, sons of Josephine Baker.
Singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist, Josephine Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but after coming to Paris to perform, stayed, enjoying a life free from the institutionalized racism and segregation she experienced at home.
Performing in her trademark banana skirt or sparkling sequins, Baker became the darling of Parisian society and a symbol of the Jazz Age. She was a pioneering figure in cinema, becoming the first black woman to star in a major motion picture – a 1927 silent film. A tropical siren.
Obtaining French citizenship, Baker devoted herself to her adopted country, even joining the French Resistance during World War II.
Last year, she became the first black woman to be inducted into the Pantheon, France’s highest posthumous honor.
In a statement, Baker’s family called her a “universal artist, woman and mother.” We are honored to partner with Studiocanal and collaborate with Maimouna on this film about our mother’s incredible and humanitarian achievements. Yes she could. And she did. Thanks mom!”
Telling Baker’s story on film was “a great honor and a beautiful challenge,” Doucouré said. “To think that through fiction I can tell her bigger and deeper richer story, her beauty, her struggles, her wounds and her humanity. I can’t wait to breathe new life into this amazing legend on screen.
Cuties, Doucour’s well-received 2020 debut, premiered at Sundance, where it won Best Director for the World Cinema Dramatic category. The drama, picked up by Netflix and looking at the sexuality of a young dance troupe, became a political football in the US after several right-wing commentators accused the film of promoting child sexual exploitation. The controversy was caused entirely by Netflix over one of the film’s promotional posters, which the streamer later apologized for as inappropriate marketing.