TIFF: Barry Jenkins, Tarell McCraney + 'Moonlight' Cast Talk Origins of the Film, Casting, Much More
Photo Credit: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney / "Moonlight" Q&A at TIFF 2016

TIFF: Barry Jenkins, Tarell McCraney + 'Moonlight' Cast Talk Origins of the Film, Casting, Much More

Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney / "Moonlight" Q&A at TIFF 2016
Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney / “Moonlight” Q&A at TIFF 2016

Following its world premiere at Telluride, and screenings at Toronto International Film Festival in the last couple of weeks, Barry Jenkins’ eagerly-anticipated “Medicine for Melancholy” follow-up, “Moonlight” – a film that’s on my 2017 list of Oscar potentials – has most certainly, decisively, earned its way into awards season contention. Reviews of the film, which will be released by A24 next month (October 21), have been absolutely stellar, scoring a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes thus far. I haven’t read a single unenthusiastic critique of the film. Obviously that could most certainly change, but it’s off to a very strong start. Rick Mele, who reviewed it for S&A after its TIFF premiere last week, calls it a gem that’s definitely worthy of all the hype its received (read Rick’s review here).

For those in New York, you’ll have an opportunity to see it a few weeks before its official release, when it screens at the New York Film Festival, as part of its main slate, on October 2 and 3. A screening at yet another one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, where past awards season fare has been presented, should only help thrust the film even further into awards season chatter.

“Moonlight” is based on award-winning African American playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” – a drama about black queer youth, following Miami kids as they navigate the temptations of the drug trade and their burgeoning sexuality. A graduate of Yale School of Drama, McCraney worked with Jenkins on the script for “Moonlight.” Most recently, his “The Brother/Sister Plays” – a breakthrough trilogy of new plays on modern-day coming-of-age stories of kinship, love, and heartache, set in the bayou of Louisiana and loosely draw on Yoruba mythology – have been produced in theaters across the country, with words like “gritty,” “lyrical,” “urban” and “mythic” often used by theatre critics to describe the works.

McCraney is in Toronto, along with Jenkins and the “Moonlight” cast, as it’s screened for attendees. And as some of you may have heard over the weekend, the Q&A that followed the Saturday night premiere screening of the film at TIFF, was an emotional one, not just for the people on the stage, but for the audience as well, as Jenkins and McCraney talk about the film’s origins, and how they decided to work together on developing the story, casting the film, and much, much more. I was hoping that TIFF would make the entire conversation available online, but that hasn’t happened yet. Thankfully, one of the audience members recorded it and uploaded it to YouTube. It’s embedded below, so watch it now (preceded by the intro to the film):

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