The 2017 Oscars had barely begun when Moonlight director Barry Jenkins gave a powerful political remark during a red carpet interview on why his Oscar-nominated film was incredibly timely and important.
During a red carpet interview with Variety, Jenkins (who cleaned up nicely with Moonlight at the Independent Spirit Awards) was asked to expand on why Moonlight resonates so deeply in the current political climate. Jenkins’ reply was absolutely beautiful: “I think it’s because we told the truth. That’s the only thing I can think of. The movie is brutally authentic, but also, in a certain way, it’s wonderfully magical and beautiful because of the way we grew up — myself and [Moonlight co-writer] Tarrell McCraney — had all those things at the center of it, all that duality.”
But it was Jenkins’ next answer that is perhaps the most chilling and perfect. To the question “Why do you think that now was the right time that [Moonlight] finally came about?” Jenkins was quick to answer: “I wish I would have made it sooner or at least tried to. I think things happen, you know? It’s funny: We made this film when it was a much safer space, it was a different president, it was a different social, cultural climate. Yet it exists in this moment right now when people can look to it and see this affirmation that otherness is not a detriment to American society. So I’m glad the movie exists as it does when it does.”
Moonlight has been on everyone’s lips during Oscars season, with many hoping it will win the Oscar for Best Picture, if not all the awards it is currently nominated for. Cited and praised time and again for its specific view into black queerness and especially black male queerness in contemporary America, Moonlight has quickly become a critical darling since its release in late 2016.
Jenkins’ comments only serve to remind us that not every movie needs to resonate with every viewer but that the inclusion of other stories in the mainstream moviegoing experience are vital. During the political climate Americans face right now and going forward, it’s incredibly true that otherness should not be a divisive force but rather a moment to experience the world through new eyes.
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