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As the controversy rages in SA about pastor Alph Lukau’s recent “resurrection” of a “dead” man, the more important contemporary resurrection has been that of African-American writer James Baldwin’s works with the film of his 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk, which is still in SA cinemas. Baldwin, who died in French exile in 1987 at the age of 63, was undoubtedly one of the towering figures of American letters in the 20th century. He was also a civil rights activist and public intellectual who published six novels, nine collections of essays, two plays and a book of poetry. His important work, however, seems to have been largely forgotten. African-American director Barry Jenkins, whose Moonlight won the Oscar for best movie in 2017, directed Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, with the screenplay sticking faithfully to the novelist’s rich dialogue. The cinematography is stunning, with intimate close-ups and narrative flashbacks. The sultry jazz rhythms of Miles Davis, Nina Sim...

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