Barry Jenkins

Photo by David Bornfriend

PEN America will recognize Academy Award-winning writer-director Barry Jenkins with the Award for Screenplay Excellence at the 2018 LitFest Gala in Beverly Hills.

Academy Award-winner Barry Jenkins was born and raised in Miami, FL. A Florida State University graduate, Jenkins’s feature film debut, Medicine for Melancholy, was hailed as one of the best films of 2009 by The New York Times and received several Independent Spirit and Gotham Award nominations.

Jenkins, along with playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his second feature Moonlight, which won Best Picture at both the Oscars and the Golden Globes (Drama). As well as earning eight Academy Award nominations, ten Broadcast Critics Choice Awards nominations, six Golden Globe nominations, and four BAFTA nominations, Moonlight won Best Picture and Director at the Gotham Awards and Best International Film by the British Independent Film Awards. In addition to NYFCC and NBR awarding Jenkins Best Director and LAFCA naming him Best Director and the film Best Picture, Jenkins is the recipient of a DGA Best Director nomination and the winner of the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Jenkins directed an episode in the first season of the Netflix Original Series, Dear White People. Upcoming projects include the feature film adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk for Annapurna and an adaptation of National Book Award winner Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad for Amazon, both of which he will pen and direct. He’s also writing a script for a coming of age drama based on the life of the first American Female Olympic boxing champ, Claressa “T-Rex” Shields. 

Jenkins, who currently resides in Los Angeles, is a curator at the Telluride Film Festival and a United States Artists Smith Fellow.

“We are thrilled to present Barry Jenkins the 2018 Award for Screenplay Excellence for If Beale Street Could Talk at this year’s LitFest Gala. Mr. Jenkins’s work embodies PEN America’s belief in the power of words to change the world. A faithful adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel, If Beale Street Could Talk is proof of Jenkins’s remarkable ability to connect people through story, experience, and a certain hope for the future.”

—Michelle Franke, Executive Director, PEN America, Los Angeles Office