Moonlight is a timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, it chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

The storyline drawn a bit dim at first, gradually increased in weight and shade evoking a full gamut of genuine emotions within me as it related to the film’s main character, Chiron. One immediate aspect of the film which stood out most was this inaudible or subscript carried throughout its three chapters. At times, the silence of the film spoke louder than the actual written dialogue. The direction of the cinematography, implications through body language and allowance for these actions through the use of “pregnant pauses” helped tell complex themes in a way uncommon in most films.

 
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How did you prepare for these roles

Andre: Neither of us had an opportunity to meet with the younger versions of ourselves. That’s something I think we both wanted to do but Barry [Director] was adamantly against it. So, a lot of it just involved trust.  Just trusting that Barry was going to take care of us. Which he did.

When you watch the film back do you connect with your younger self on-screen?

Andre: One million percent!

Trevante: When I watched the film for the first time, it was jarring because it was like, what! This is a reincarnation of myself. The whole thing was just a surreal moment when I saw it.

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Did you guys have any apprehensions about the role as far as what the subject matter was and how it would look on film?

Andre: I wanted to tackle it. I feel like we’ve come a long way. With me being really close friends with Tarrell [Writer], he’s opened my eyes to so many things in the course of a year that we’ve been working together. It’s actually amazing that I get to represent these people’s lives. I don’t feel any kind of… “oh what people are going to think of me”. It’s about telling real stories about real people. So, I’m honored to be in it.

Trevante: I’m ignorant to the fact that there’s a difference. I love that you asked that question. Why is there a difference? Why do we really focus on the fact that there is a difference. To have the opportunity to portray someone like this and to show that we can be this hyper-masculine individual but at the same time display this wealth of emotion that is real…is the most critical thing. I would’ve ran through a wall to be a part of this.

Why do you feel this film is important?

Andre: It’s very difficult for me to understand how we can say “Black Lives Matter” and push for equality and social justice but at the same time, within our own community, marginalize a whole other section of who we are. It feels unfair, unkind and not right. One of the reasons I think this movie is important is because it puts this story, “gay black people”, front and center. It’s not about Aids. It’s not about people in enormous crisis. it’s about people being in love with each other and trying to work shit out.

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What’s the messaging to the segment of viewers who are dealing with similar struggles as Kevin’s character? How can they potentially confront their vulnerabilities which are not necessarily visible to the public but harmful nonetheless?

Andre: As far as we know, Kevin nor Chiron have fathers in their lives. Chiron has a male figure in Juan who is abruptly taken away but Kevin doesn’t. So what we see in the second part of the film is this guy performing what he thinks masculinity is. He’s constructed his whole identity around being this guy who’s got all these girls. He’s funny and smooth-talking and he’s know’s how to handle himself. When he gets put in the situation where he’s forced to make a choice between preserving his own identity within his community or hurting someone who he deeply cares about and possibly revealing something about himself that’s deeply personal, he makes a choice that I think a lot of teenagers would make in that same circumstance. At some point between then and when we see him again in  ‘story three’, I feel that he let go of that mask of hyper-masculinity to a degree. He [Kevin] even said in the kitchen scene, “I was never who I wanted to be. I was just who everybody said I should be”. He’s realized he’s more than just one thing…somehow he’s made peace with that. I find that really beautiful. I think that’s a complicated thing for a brother to do all by himself.

How different for you guys have black verses white people responded?

Trevante: There hasn’t been any difference at all which is the most insane thing in the world to me. Again, it speaks to literally everyone no matter your age, sexual orientation or race. It’s insane because this is a very specific story about a specific person but in that, there’s this universal theme that anyone can relate to…they can see a little bit of themselves in Chiron.

Andre: Everybody has a point of access which is the magic of this movie.

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What I love about being a black man is…?

Trevante: I like being underestimated. I like the fact that I get to show people certain sides about ‘us’ as a people that people really don’t naturally believe we can have, do or be. Society, has brought us to believe that we are these dumb or lesser kind of people. I like to be a part of a discussion that combats that.

Andre: What’s in the blood of ‘us’ as a people [Trevante: Elaborate sir!]. What I mean is…when I hear the drums that’s in this movie, that connects to something in me that’s also in my mommy and daddy, grandmomma and granddaddy and so on and so forth. When I find myself in tricky spots, I can remember that drum beat and I know it’s going to be alright because it’s been alright for a long got damn time. It’s in the blood…you can’t take it away. It’s in us. We’re beautiful and can’t nobody say nothing about it. The stuff that religion has taught us to believe about how to divide ourselves – we approve of this and don’t approve of that. Behind all of that, we are a deeply understanding, deeply feeling people.

What type of conversations do you hope to create in black films and schools?

Andre: People who are having questions about these things maybe now have a point of reference. It creates an opportunity to have a conversation…in a safe space.

At once a vital portrait of contemporary African American life and an intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love, MOONLIGHT is a groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths. Anchored by extraordinary performances from a tremendous ensemble cast, Jenkins’s staggering, singular vision is profoundly moving in its portrayal of the moments, people, and unknowable forces that shape our lives and make us who we are.
 

Opening Theatrically in New York and Los Angeles on October 21st
Expansion starting October 28 

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