Maïmouna Doucouré is following up 2020’s “Cuties,” her Paris-set portrait of a pre-teen Senegalese immigrant who joins a dance clique, with the story of a trailblazing dancer, singer, actor, and civil rights activist. Variety reports that the French filmmaker will write and direct a Josephine Baker biopic being developed by StudioCanal.
An American-born French performer who was born in 1906 and died in 1975, Baker famously refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States. “She worked as a secret agent for the French Resistance during WWII, then supported Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement, speaking at his side during his 1963 March on Washington,” the source details. The “J’ai deux amours” singer made history as the first Black woman to star in a feature film with 1927 silent film “La Sirène des Tropiques.”
Doucouré’s film has the approval of Baker’s sons, Jean-Claude Bouillon Baker and Brian Bouillon Baker, and “the Rainbow Tribe, which is what she dubbed her adopted children,” the source details.
“We are honored to partner with StudioCanal and collaborate with Maïmouna on this feature film about the incredible and humanist achievements of our mother,” said Baker’s sons and the Rainbow Tribe, who described their mother as a “universal artist.” They added, “Yes she could. And she did. Thank you, Mum.”
Doucouré commented, “Josephine Baker is such an inspiration for me and so many people around the world.” She described the project as a “huge honor and a beautiful challenge,” adding that she couldn’t “wait to breathe new life into this incredible legend on screen.” She emphasized, “To think that through fiction I can tell her great and profoundly rich story, her beauty, her fights, her wounds, and her humanity.”
“Cuties” made its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival, where Doucouré took home the Directing Award in the World Cinema Dramatic category. The drama explores the sexualization of girls and the social pressures they face.