Moonlight: How Brad Pitt helped make Barry Jenkins' drama happen

Pitt agreed to back Jenkins' adaptation after meeting in 2013

Jacob Stolworthy
Friday 17 February 2017 09:43 GMT

Oscar-nominated drama Moonlight is the coming-of-age drama that's been stunning critics ever since it bowed during last year's festival season. It' sure to do the same for audiences now it's been released in cinemas. Surprisingly, it most probably wouldn't have received such attention had it not been for Hollywood star Brad Pitt.

Director Barry Jenkins - who impressed critics with his 2008 black-and-white debut Medicine for Melancholy - met Pitt after moderating a Q&A with director Steve McQueen following a Telluride Film Festival screening of his film 12 Years a Slave which Pitt's production company Plan B oversaw.

So impressed was Pitt with Jenkins that he agreed to back his planned adaptation of In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, the unproduced Tarell Alvin McCraney play that serves as the inspiration behind Jenkins' acclaimed drama. Combined with the additional backing of producer Adele Romanski, Moonlight was able to not only be made but be distributed successfully.

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Front and centre of Moonlight is Chiron, a black man who is gay - whichever way you look at it a main character rarely glimpsed in mainstream cinema.

It's refreshing to know that producers like Pitt can spot both the stories that need to be told and the skilled filmmakers who should tell them. Moonlight may have been released but it's doubtful it would be earning half as much of the love as this affecting masterpiece deserves.

The film also stars Oscar-nominated actor Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris. Read our interview with Alex Hibbert, the 12-year-old who portrays Chiron at the earliest stage of his life, here.

Moonlight is released in cinemas today. This year's Oscars ceremony takes place on 26 February.

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