Barry Jenkins and Leonardo DiCaprio teaming up? Sounds like a director-actor team made in heaven! Unfortunately, while the two are collaborating on a project, they won’t be working together as closely as a director and actor would. Jenkins has been tapped to write a feature adaptation of the 2014 documentary Virunga that DiCaprio will produce.
The film will be released on Netflix. DiCaprio was an executive producer on writer-director Orlando von Einsiedel‘s original documentary, whose film earned an Academy Award nomination for its depiction of the rangers who regularly risk their lives to save Africa’s most beloved national park and its endangered gorillas.
DiCaprio will produce via his Appian Way banner along with Jennifer Davisson and Phillip Watson, as well as Oscar winner Joann Natasegara of Violent Films. Von Einsiedel will also serve as an executive producer on the feature version.
Jenkins hasn’t rested on his laurels since Moonlight won Best Picture a few years ago. Since then he’s directed If Beale Street Could Talk – earning another Best Adapted Screenplay nomination -, written Rachel Morrison‘s upcoming directorial debut Flint Strong, and has spearheaded the Amazon series The Underground Railroad, based on the bestselling novel by Colson Whitehead.
His involvement gives the feature adaptation of Virunga a chance to be something truly great. It’s unclear why Jenkins is only writing the script and not on board to direct – it might be because he’s also attached to direct a biopic of influential choreographer Alvin Ailey for Searchlight Pictures at some point – but maybe the producers have someone lined up, or maybe Jenkins changes his mind down the line.
So no, Jenkins won’t be directing DiCaprio, but this is the next best thing, at least for now.