Barry Jenkins spent many years shoveling popcorn, curating and introducing films at the Telluride Film Festival.
And his own film, “Moonlight,” premiered there earlier this year. It’s his first feature film in eight years, a long interlude for most film directors, but the wait has clearly been worth it.
The New York Times, The New Yorker and just about every other major publication has heralded the film as the best film of the year.
It follows the life of Chiron in three acts with three different actors. From boyhood to adolescence to adulthood, he deals with a drug addicted mother, a struggling neighborhood in Miami, and his own sexuality.
The story is based off of a semi-autobiographical play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who has received a MacArthur Genius Grant. Even though they didn’t know each other, McCraney and Jenkins grew up in the same neighborhood in Miami, Liberty City, where the film is set and was shot.
“It felt like this had to be done at the home because so much of my personality and Tarell’s personality is rooted in the place,” Jenkins said in an interview with Lois Reitzes. “You started to see the neighborhood take ownership of the movie.”
Writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates have applauded the film for its portrayal of masculinity.
“There are certain ways that the men exchange greetings, the way they talk to one another,” said Jenkins. “I’ve never seen a black man cook for another black man in a film, so it was important to have these gestures to show these many permutations of masculinity in the black community.”
“Moonlight” is now playing at Midtown Arts Cinema, Atlantic Station and Phipps. You can hear more from Jenkins and from actor Trevante Rhodes, who plays Chiron, in the interview above.
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