Shining a Light on the Importance of Moonlight

Image courtesy of  A24

5/5| Crime| Drama| Romance| 1hr 55m

Director: Barry Jenkins
Screenplay: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
Cinematography: James Laxton

At a recent visit to my Grandma’s house in Houston, Texas, the topic of the infamous 2017 Academy Awards Winner fiasco came up. While I was not surprised by some of the archaic things my family had to say about the Best Picture winner, I couldn’t help but realize that their feelings towards Moonlight only reinforced the importance and timeliness of the film.

Moonlight is a coming-of-age film that goes through three chapters in the life of its lead character, Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami. We see Chiron’s journey into manhood and his exploration of his sexuality.  Never has a film about the black community been so truthful, heartbreaking and inspiring. This film initially caught me off guard, because I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I heard about the film when I came across a review on YouTube, and there was no mention of the lead character’s sexuality, but that didn’t matter, because Barry Jenkins directed the film so tastefully. From the cinematography, to the writing and acting, this movie transcended all my expectations and was one of my favorite films of 2016.

Its safe to say that my family did not share my feelings on the film. My grandmother believed it was “in poor taste” and that it “reflected badly on the black community,” and my brothers don’t really care too much for “that gay shit.” Honestly, I don’t know why I expected more from a woman from an older generation, but it was the comments from my siblings that caused me to recalculate just how “progressive” my family actually is. They don’t realize that comments like these are the reason homosexual men and women in the black community are so tortured. Or maybe they do and just don’t care. Maybe its a little bit of both, but regardless, its an issue.

Films like Moonlight are important, because they focus on underrepresented communities. Although mainstream entertainment is beginning to write more and more gay, lesbian, trans and non-binary characters into films and television shows, we still have to cross racial boundaries when it comes to these topics. Moonlight is one of the few films to ever attempt, let alone pull off, crossing racial boundaries with LGBTQ characters and its success paves the way for many more.

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