Revisiting 'Moonlight,' a movie made with persistence and kismet
Director Barry Jenkins and producer Adele Romanski tell us about making their Golden Globe-winning Moonlight, about a gay African American boy growing up surrounded by poverty and drugs in Miami. Plus, an all new awards season banter.
When Barry Jenkins' film Moonlight premiered at Telluride in 2016, he had no idea how many people would connect with his drama about a gay, black boy growing up in a tough Miami neighborhood. Turns out, a lot of people have found something to relate to in the movie, and it's now a strong awards contender, picking up nominations from the guilds and a Golden Globes win. This holiday weekend, we revisit our conversation with Jenkins and producer Adele Romanski, who have been friends since college. They tell us how the film came to be, and why part of the script was written on a European jaunt to Brussels.
Photo: Trevante Rhodes and Andre Holland in Moonlight. (David Bornfriend/A24)
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Moonlight is making its mark in the awards race with a Golden Globes win for Best Motion Picture Drama, as well as nominations from the Producers Guild and Directors Guild. The American Film Institute listed it as one of the top 10 movies of 2016.
Today we're revisiting our conversation with Moonlight director Barry Jenkins and producer Adele Romanski.
The film tells the story of Chiron, who grows up black, poor and gay in Miami. Early in life, he falls under the protection of a drug dealer named Juan, played by Mahershala Ali, who is also a strong awards contender for best supporting actor.
Later we see Chiron as a high-schooler and then as a young adult, trying to make his way in a world that is unwilling accept him. Three different actors portray Chiron at the various stages of his life.
This is the second movie for writer-director Barry Jenkins. He made his first film, Medicine for Melancholy, on a $15,000 production budget with a loan from a friend. Eight years passed before Jenkins was back with Moonlight.
Producer Adele Romanski and Jenkins went to film school together at Florida State. When we sat down with them, Jenkins told us that growing up in the same poverty-stricken Miami neighborhood as his main character, he had no thought of becoming a filmmaker. He tells us what made him pursue filmmaking, how he encountered the play he eventually adapted to become Moonlight, and how a tough-love phone call from Romanski kicked the process into gear.
Moonlight premiered to rave reviews at Telluride and is now in the awards race. Jenkins told us he had no idea how the film would be received since for most people, the world portrayed in the film is a “world apart” from most people's experiences, but he's been “consistently amazed at how much people are seeing of themselves in the film.”