Barry Jenkins, the writer and director of this year’s most acclaimed movie Moonlight holds that “we should speak what is in our heart, whenever, no matter what stage we are on.”
He told Variety‘s “PopPolitics”: “We’ve gotten to the point where we are very conformable separating art from politics, but art has always been a political act. Telling a story, even if you do the work to actively remove politics from the work, that in and of itself is a political act. I have no problem with people speaking their minds. I just try to make things as personal as I can.”
When he accepted an award from the National Board of Review, he had not planned to note that he was the first African-American to win the organization’s directing prize, but that it felt necessary.
“There were certain people who just weren’t considered for so long. The country is changing. The world is changing. We are trying to ‘Make America Great Again.’”
“There was a time when someone who looked like me was simply not eligible for an award by the National Board of Review,” Jenkins says. “No matter how good and strong the work may have been, they simply were not eligible, and so I don’t know if that is the America we want to make ourselves into again. I do think that some of the things that happened with this film are a symbol of the continual progression of making America great, which is a very inclusive version of what it means to be an American.”
Jenkins says that he noticed a difference in the response to the movie before the election and after: “I saw the tenor and the currency of those conversations shift after the election, in a post-election world, I think people look to the film as an affirmation of the many different versions of American that are all deeply American.”
The film’s character is marginalized, and I think that the centering of this character is something that people have looked to as a symbol of what America is, one of the many different versions of American life.”