Director Barry Jenkins: Moonlight reflects my childhood

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 9 February 2017
Barry Jenkins

Barry Jenkins

'Moonlight' director Barry Jenkins' admits his multiple Oscar-nominated nominated film explores many real events from his own childhood

Director Barry Jenkins admits 'Moonlight' deals with many real elements of his own childhood.

The 37-year-old filmmaker adapted the recently released drama - which has received an incredible eight Oscar nominations - from a play by Tarrell McCraney called 'In Moonlight, Black Boys Look Blue' and revealed the narrative caught his eye because it shared similarities with his own "poor" and troubled upbringing.

Speaking about what inspired him to make the movie - which stars Naomie Harris as drug addicted mother Paula - he said: "The film's setting is crucial. It takes place during the war-on-drugs era because that was a key part of my childhood - I was poor and black and my mom was an addict.

"Naomie Harris plays Chiron's mom - she's the only actor to appear in all three acts and her performance is incredible. She does an amazing job as someone whose life and circumstances change rapidly."

Jenkins grew up Florida and set many of the scenes between lead character Chiron - played by Ashton Sanders - and his father Juan (Mahershala Ali) near the sea because of the connection to his own life.

He told ShortList magazine: "Water and the ocean are hugely symbolic in this film. I grew up about a mile from the Ocean and even just thinking about it now, I can hear it, and smell it. It's a powerful, ephemeral sort of presence and so it is in the movie too."

And he thinks the movie will tear down stereotypes and barriers in cinema because it will show black people naked.

He added: "It shifts people's perceptions of what a black body can mean ... We so rarely see black men with their bodies bared, and we rarely see black people in water."

Naomie, 40, has been shortlisted for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her performance in 'Moonlight', while Jenkins is up for Best Director.

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