Moonlight: The Film Making Waves For the 2017 Award Season
A film that took only 25 days to shoot is being hailed by critics as “diverse film-making at its best.” Moonlight, dreamed up and put into motion by Miami-born filmmaker Barry Jenkins, tells the story of a young African American boy named Chiron who struggles to come to terms with his sexuality while growing up in a tough Florida neighborhood.
Jenkins, who wrote and directed the film, said it was actually conceived three and a half years ago. He told BBC News, “That’s fairly average because it takes a long time for a film to get made. So all these movies we have this year – Birth of a Nation, A United Kingdom, Loving, Fences – which are being framed as a reply to the campaign about the lack of diversity in the system, probably began about four years ago. So the cry about the lack of voices and representation on our screens actually goes much further back and now films like ours are beginning to surface.”
The film, completed on a budget around $5 million, has grossed twice that figure at the North American box office, and has received rave reviews and acclaim almost globally, having been screened at the Telluride, Toronto and London film festivals.
Actors Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris both secured Golden Globe nominations for their roles in Moonlight, and Harris says the attention that the film is currently receiving has taken her by surprise. She stated, “It (the film) had a really small budget, and everyone did it because they were passionate about it. It’s a very rare film – it speaks of a very profound love, and the response we’ve had has been overwhelming – I think people are hungry for these kinds of stories.”
According to film critics, the forerunners for Golden Globe glory are Moonlight, Damien Chazelle’s musical La La Land and Manchester By The Sea by Kenneth Lonergan.
“It’s just humbling being part of the conversation, especially after a much-needed shake up in the industry about people of colour,” said Mahershala Ali. “But I want the film to be rewarded on it own merits, not because it’s a film of diversity. As an African American, you just want to see projects go ahead that have ‘other’ faces in them with the potential to stand up against any film.
“You know, we had this same conversation a few years ago when the film Precious came out, about change. I hope it’s a wake up call, because I know a lot of wonderful directors and writers who didn’t get their films made because they didn’t fit the type.”
Harris concluded, “The cry for more diversity on screen was a long time in coming, we’ve needed it, and I hope this year we are finally beginning to see it.”
Moonlight, which is also nominated for best drama, best director, best screenplay and best original score, will be released in the UK on February 17.
By: Danielle Dixon
Follow her on Twitter: @tooprettydani