Moonlight: Miami as Setting (LGBTQ)

MOONLIGHT exudes an indelible sense of place, with the city of Miami and becoming a distinct character in its own right, much in the same way San Francisco functioned in Jenkins’ previous feature Medicine for Melancholy.

Many of the people involved with the film, including Jenkins, McCraney, Romanski and Rodriguez, are Florida natives. Each of them has been affected and shaped by Miami in different ways.

For McCraney, the city is a place unlike any other for the way it engulfs and suspends its inhabitants and visitors in a lush embrace. “It’s the only place I understand yet can’t quite fully explain,” McCraney notes. “Miami is inundated with American problems but feels otherworldly because it’s a paradise most of the time. It’s hard to think of our 9-to-5 routines when it’s hot and warm with palm trees swaying all around you. There’s also something timeless about the city, and that’s what MOONLIGHT captures. You experience a cross-section of what Miami truly feels like, without skimping on the fullness of the place.”

For Ramirez, it’s the city’s unique people that stand out most and give the metropolitan area — and MOONLIGHT — its unique flavor. “People in Miami are such distinct characters,” Ramirez explains. “I have vivid memories growing up around so many diverse people and personalities. It’s a welcoming and comforting environment even if you’re a stranger there. Especially when you find common ground with someone.”

For Romanski, who calls Miami “a hugely important character in the movie,” the South Florida light remains one of the city’s most palpable characteristics, bathing the story in
its distinct glow. “Miami light is typically perceived to be harsh because there’s so much direct sunlight,” Romanski explains. “But the humidity and moisture in the air gives it this incredible texture. Combined with the lushness of the surrounding environment, the light becomes achingly beautiful. You can feel it.”