As a lifelong, dedicated film fan, who is also a woman, two things immediately grab my attention: creative talents trying new things, and women having the space to tell stories. Needless to say, on the all-too-rare occasion that those two elements converge in the same project, I am all-in. Joy reigned throughout the land, then, when news arrived that not only is the formidably talented, Academy Award winning Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) in talks to star in Intelligent Life, but that the incredible Ava DuVernay (Selma) is in talks to direct the film, too.
Intelligent Life began as a screenplay called The Ambassador, and is the work of powerhouse writing duo Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly. In its original form, this science fiction thriller focused on a UN worker within a unit tasked with representing humanity if aliens were to make contact. The worker – a man – falls in love with an enigmatic woman, who is revealed to be an alien herself. Clearly, having delivered the phenomenally lucrative Jurassic World in 2015, anything these two screenwriters have in their unproduced back catalogue is now highly sought after, so they have apparently re-worked their original concept into a larger scale narrative, which has now become Intelligent Life.
Lupita Nyong’o is in negotiations to star as the enigmatic woman at the heart of events, while Ava DuVernay is reported to be close to a deal to take the helm. Such a combination of talents is exciting, to say the least, but it is the way in which these talents would be spreading their wings that is really impressive. Firstly, while writers Trevorrow and Connolly have always had a foot in the science fiction camp – with time-travelling gem Safety Not Guaranteed and excellent reboot Jurassic World under their belts – they’ve never really dived in, head first, until now.
Similarly, science fiction would represent a genre jump for director Ava DuVernay. The world has been holding its breath, waiting to see which project she would board following the critical success of her film Selma, and it seems as though her patience has paid off. As the media reports that she is fielding an increasing number of offers from the bigger budget end of the movie spectrum, those that have been following the growing call for women directors of high profile projects can take heart.
Lastly, there is Lupita Nyong’o, who has now repeatedly proven herself to be a great talent, but who has yet to feature in a lead role, in a big movie. They don’t come much bigger than Intelligent Life – produced by Frank Marshall (Jurassic World, the Bourne franchise, the Indiana Jones franchise), written by Trevorrow and Donnolly, and – hopefully – helmed by one of the most in-demand directors working today. If Ava DuVernay does indeed choose to head into the realm of science fiction with this project, we can go ahead and pencil it in for highly anticipated future viewing.