An Inside Look At "Moonlight"

Courtesy of A24
Courtesy of A24

The Underground Museum (UGM) located in Los Angeles, CA held a special screening of "Moonlight" directed by Barry Jenkins on November 9, 2016. I was planning on seeing this film soon, but once I got word of this screening I knew that I wanted to watch it at the UGM.

Courtesy of A24
Courtesy of A24

Barry Jenkins' "Moonlight" chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in Liberty City, a hood of Miami. The movie is told in a unique format that I love. It is broken up into three parts, three stages of this young black mans' life: "Little", "Chiron", & "Black". As a photographer myself I couldn't help but compare this style of film to one of my favorite techniques/ways to display photos: a triptych.

Courtesy of A24
Courtesy of A24

African American masculinity, life and self identity are brought to the forefront in this film in ways that we have never seen before. Black love, family and friendships and the complexity of these relationships are also addressed in Moonlight. The story was originally brought to us as a short play called "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue"  by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Jenkins and McCraney have similar Miami backgrounds, making this an intensely personal film about a bullied kid growing up in the poor hood of Liberty City at the height of the 1980s crack epidemic.

Courtesy of A24
Courtesy of A24

The casting of this film was genius to me. Director Barry Jenkins explains that he was not so much looking for each character to really "look exactly alike" but his only requirement was that they were to have the same eyes.

"In cinema, the audience is literally looking into the soul of the character when they're looking into the eyes of the actor." -Barry Jenkins

The Underground Museum is an exhibition space by artist for artist, but it definitely feels like more than JUST that. The vibe of this location is so perfect and I encourage anyone who is visiting or already lives in LA but have never stopped by the UGM to check it out.

The setting was perfect for an outdoor screening, many people were sprawled out on blankets/pillows on the ground, while some people were able to manage finding a seat. The screening began and the audience was captivated from the opening scene up until the credits.

After the screening there was a panel moderated by actor Jesse Williams. Which I was most excited about, because we now have the opportunity to pick the brains of the director, Barry Jenkins and two of the cast members, Ashton Sanders (Chiron) & Trevante Rhodes (Black). I brought my camera along with me not really intending to record video, but the answers to some of these questions were so insightful and helpful for those who have actually watched the film that I wanted to share it with you guys!

Courtesy of A24
Courtesy of A24

Some info about the film:

Opened: Friday, Oct. 21 Distributor: A24 Production companies: Plan B Entertainment, Pastel Cast: Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, Janelle Monae, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Alex Hibbert, Jaden Piner Director-Screenwriter: Barry Jenkins Story: Tarell Alvin McCraney Producers: Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner Executive producers: Brad Pitt, Sarah Esberg, Tarell Alvin McCraney Director of photography: James Laxton Production designer: Hannah Beachler Costume designer: Caroline Eselin-Schaefer Music: Nicholas Britell Editors: Nat Sanders, Joi McMillon Casting: Yesi Ramirez Sales: A24

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