Studiocanal is developing a Josephine Baker biopic with Maïmouna Doucouré attached to write and direct.
The film is in development with the support of Josephine Baker’s sons Jean-Claude Bouillon Baker, Brian Bouillon Baker and the Rainbow tribe– the affectionate name the artist gave to the 12 children that she adopted after World War Two.
“Josephine Baker. The universal artist, woman and mother,” they said in a joint statement. We are honoured 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!”
American-born French entertainer and civil rights activist Baker, who spent most of her career in Europe, was the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film Siren Of The Tropics.
During her early career, she was among the most celebrated performers in Paris. Her performance in the revue Un Vent de Folie in 1927 caused a sensation in the city and her costume, consisting of only a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, became an iconic image and a symbol both of the Jazz Age and Roaring Twenties. Later, Baker was active for the French Resistance during WWII, for which she was awarded multiple honors by French leader General Charles de Gaulle.
Baker refused to perform to segregated audiences in the U.S. and is noted for her contributions to the civil rights movement. She was even offered a leadership role in the movement by Coretta Scott King following her husband’s assassination.
Baker died in Paris in 1975, but in 2021 she was reburied in the Panthéon in Paris, becoming only the sixth woman to be honored in this way by France, alongside Simone Veil and Marie Curie.
Studiocanal is producing with Doucouré’s longtime producers at Bien Ou Bien Productions in co-production with CPB Films.
Doucouré said Baker’s life and work as an artist had been an inspiration to her.
“It’s a huge honour and also a beautiful challenge to board this project. 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,” she said.
The production will shoot in 2023 with casting yet to be announced.