‘Cuties’ Director Maimouna Doucoure to Direct Josephine Baker Biopic – The Hollywood Reporter
French director Maïmouna Doucouré (Cuties, Hawa) has signed on to write and direct a new biopic on American-born French icon Josephine Baker.
Studiocanal and Bien ou Bien Productions are set to produce the film together with CPB Films, with principal photography expected to begin next year. The project is being developed with the support of Josephine Baker’s sons Jean-Claude Bouillon Baker and Brian Bouillon Baker.
A singer, dancer, actress and civil rights activist, Josephine Baker was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, but after coming to Paris to perform, remained, enjoying a life free of the institutionalized racism and segregation she experienced at home.
Performing in her trademark banana skirt, or shimmering sequins, Baker became the darling of Parisian society and a symbol of the Jazz Age. She was also a pioneering figure in cinema, becoming the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture —the 1927 silent movie Siren of the Tropics.
Taking on 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 in Paris, 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 Maïmouna on this feature film about the incredible and humanist achievements of our mother. Yes she could. And she did. Thank you Mum!”
Doucouré said it was a “huge honour and also a beautiful challenge” to tell Baker’s story on film. “To think that through fiction I can tell her great and profoundly rich story, her beauty, her fights, her wounds and her humanity. I can’t wait to breathe new life into this incredible legend on screen.”
Cuties, Doucouré’s well-received 2020 debut, premiered at Sundance, where it won her the best director prize for the World Cinema dramatic section. Picked up by Netflix, the drama, which looks at the sexualization of a young dance troupe, became a political football in the U.S. after several right-wing commentators accused the movie of promoting child sexual exploitation. The controversy was almost entirely due to one of Netflix’s promotional posters for the film, which the streamer later apologized for, saying its marketing was inappropriate.