Moonlight Poster


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Naomie Harris had to shoot her entire role in three days, in between her promotional tour of Spectre (2015), due to a visa problem (Harris is British). The scenes spanned 15 years in the character's life and were filmed out of sequence.
When Juan teaches Little how to swim, Mahershala Ali is really teaching Alex R. Hibbert how to swim. When production started, Hibbert did not know how to swim.
In an interview, Barry Jenkins said that the three actors who play Chiron never met during production. He wanted each of them to build their own persona of Chiron during their respective segments, with no influence from the other portrayals. The same technique was used with the actors who play Kevin.
Both director Barry Jenkins and writer Tarell Alvin McCraney's vision was pretty clear and singular in that both men grew up in the same Liberty City neighborhood of Miami with mothers who had both struggled with drug addiction. Roughly 80% of the film was shot on location here, one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the United States. Initially the production was apprehensive about safety issues until the word got out that Jenkins was from the neighborhood - then everything changed for the better. The locals couldn't have been more welcoming and cooperative. Naomie Harris has said that she'd never felt so appreciated and at ease on a film set during the shoot.
According to cinematographer James Laxton Moonlight only had a small budget of $1.5 million (Variety). Director Barry Jenkins confirmed at a Q&A at the BFI in London, that this was indeed the budget. This is a lower budget than any other 'Best Picture' winner since Rocky (1976) had, which cost a reported $1.1 million in its day. But if the budgets are adjusted for inflation, then "Moonlight" has to be regarded as the 'Best Picture' winner with the lowest budget ever.
An early meeting with Brad Pitt helped director Barry Jenkins get the necessary funds and distribution deal he required.
Such were the budgetary constraints on this production, the cast had to share one trailer for costume, hair and makeup and one rest room stall had to be shared by cast and crew.
The film is based on the unproduced play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue" by MacArthur Fellow Tarell Alvin McCraney.
Filmed over 25 days in October and November 2015 in South Florida.
The second song that plays in the Diner is "Hello Stranger" by Barbara Lewis. Director Barry Jenkins made the decision to actually play the song on the jukebox in the background while they were filming.
Director Barry Jenkins' favorite scene in his film was an impromptu sequence of Paula staring straight into the camera over-cranked at 48fps. This was a last-minute decision by Jenkins specifically intended to fully engage the audience with Paula's character.
When first approached, Naomie Harris was very reluctant to play a crack addict since it was so alien to her teetotaling persona. Harris had been insistent from the start on a career plan to only portray women in a positive light. However, when Barry Jenkins confided to her that she'd be portraying a character based on his own crack-addicted mother, she agreed to take on the role. In preparation for the part she spent a month researching the lives of drug addicts by watching several videos of crack addicts on YouTube.
Like Chiron, director Barry Jenkins also had a mother who suffered from addiction.
Director Barry Jenkins was inspired by his own childhood in Miami, where he was "always surrounded by this very lush green grass and these beautiful golden sunsets." He grew up in "an awesome neighborhood where some very dark things happened." He feels as though his childhood was "a beautiful struggle."
The light flashes in the transitions between chapters is actually an out of focus digital time-code from a camera slate. During filming the actors were sprayed with oil so their skin would shine on camera and the crew would hold the running slate against the lens to protect it from the sprays. Barry Jenkins saw the out of focus time-code on his view monitor and decided to add it to the film as the light flashes are literally showing time moving forward.
Mahershala Ali is the first person of Muslim faith to win an Academy Award for acting.
With his Oscar nomination, Barry Jenkins has become the fourth black filmmaker nominated in the Best Director category.
This is the first LGBT film, and the first film featuring an all black cast, to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Producer Dede Gardner is the first woman to win the Academy Award for 'Best Picture' twice. Her first award was for 12 Years a Slave (2013).
Moonlight has a very diverse score with music ranging from orchestra to "chopped and screwed." As the film goes on, composer Nicholas Britell decided to "chop and screw" the orchestra to create a unique sound.
The inspiration for the narrative structure of the film came from Taiwanese director Hsiao-Hsien Hou's film Zui hao de shi guang (2005).
The adult Chiron drives a car with the license plate number "BLACK305." 'Black' is the nickname Kevin gives to Chiron when they are teenagers, and 305 is the area code for Miami.
During an interview, director Barry Jenkins mentioned that the idea of using the song Every N----r Is A Star by Boris Gardiner came from a sample from Kendrick Lamar's album To Pimp A Butterfly which starts with a sample of the original song.
Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, the accounting firm responsible for tabulating the results, preparing awards envelopes and handing them to presenters apologized unreservedly to the makers of La La Land (2016) and Moonlight, as well as everyone involved, after an envelope mix-up caused the former to be incorrectly announced as Best Picture: "We sincerely apologize to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. [sic] We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred. We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation."
The song "One Step Ahead" by Aretha Franklin plays twice in the film. In the first act, it is playing in the living room after Chiron comes home from the swimming lesson. You can also hear it playing in the Diner on the jukebox in the third act.
During a Q&A at the International Film Festival Rotterdam director Barry Jenkins jokingly answered the question to what the budget was by saying: "Somewhere below 500 million dollars!" In fact, at a later Q&A at the BFI in London, he confirmed the budget was only $1.5 million.
This is the first film since Braveheart (1995) to win the Academy Award for Best Picture without winning awards from the Producers Guild of America or Directors Guild of America.
Chiron is the name of a centaur in Greek mythology known as the Wounded Healer.
Both Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monáe also appear in Hidden Figures (2016), another Best Picture nominee in the same year.
A24's first film to win an Oscar for Best Picture on the 89th Academy Awards.
Director Barry Jenkins started writing the screenplay in Brussels, in the bar Lord Byron.
Second film to be officially screened at the "National Museum of African American History and Culture" that opened to the public in Washington D.C. on September 24, 2016 (the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution).
Moonlight is Barry Jenkins' second full length feature film behind Medicine for Melancholy (2008).
The restaurant scene at the end was filmed at Jimmy's Eastside Diner in Miami, off Biscayne Boulevard.
The first Academy Award 'Best Picture' winner by a black filmmaker who both directed and wrote the screenplay.
Mahershala Ali won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this film with less than 20 minutes of screen time.
The music when Chiron is driving to Miami is Cucurrucucú Paloma, performed by Caetano Veloso. The same song is presented by the Brazilian singer in the respected Spanish movie Talk to Her (2002).
The song "Cucurrucucú Paloma" was the director's personal homage to Kar-Wai Wong's film Happy Together (1997), which deals with the same subject matter.
Barry Jenkins became the first African-American helmer of a 'Best Picture' Academy Award winning feature. The first black helmer to win was the British director Steve McQueen.
Barry Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney are the third and fourth African-American screenwriters to win the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay after Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious (2009) and John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave (2013).
Film debut of Alex R. Hibbert.
When the time came to present Best Picture at the The 89th Annual Academy Awards (2017) (the last award of the ceremony), presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were mistakenly handed the wrong envelope backstage. Beatty held a duplicate envelope for the category Best Actress in a Leading Role (which was announced just minutes before and was won by Emma Stone for La La Land (2016)) in his hands while presenting the nominees for Best Picture. When Beatty opened the envelope, apparently becoming aware of the mistake, he hesitated to announce a winner. He then handed the card to Dunaway who announced the heavily favored La La Land as the winner for Best Picture. The three nominated producers Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt and Fred Berger as well as the whole cast and crew of the film went up on stage. Horowitz gave his thanks first, up next was Platt during whose speech the mistake became known when the ceremony's producers ran through the crowd on stage looking for the faulty as well as correct envelopes. It became clear that Horowitz was handed the wrong envelope by Beatty, which stated "Emma Stone, La La Land, Best Actress in a Leading Role", upon accepting the award, while the right envelope announcing Moonlight as the real Best Picture winner had to be brought on-stage from backstage and was finally handed to Beatty. The crowd on stage became slowly aware of the mistake and, despite being already aware of the not winning, Berger still gave a speech thanking his family and ending his speech by stating "We lost by the way, but, you know." Horowitz, also being told about the mistake, stepped up to the microphone again and finally revealed to the public that Moonlight actually had won, showing the correct Best Picture card to the audience as well as the camera. Beatty additionally cleared up that he was handed the wrong envelope and also announced Moonlight as winner of Best Picture. After this announcement, the cast and crew of La La Land slowly left the stage, while the three producers handed their awards over to the team from Moonlight, which was able to finally give their speeches. While there had already been a mix-up of winners at the Oscars in 1964, when Sammy Davis Jr. announced the winners for the two categories Scoring of Music (adaptation or treatment) and Music Score (substantially original) and was handed the envelopes for the two categories interchanged (eventually announcing John Addison as the winner for Best Scoring of Music when he wasn't even nominated in that category (André Previn was the actual winner, while Addison was the winner in the Music Score category)), Beatty and Dunaway's snafu remains the only time in Oscar history that a person or film was announced as a winner, when they actually weren't.
In order to persuade Naomie Harris to join the project, producer Jeremy Kleiner lied and told her that Barry Jenkins had written the role of Paula with her in mind. She didn't find out the truth until after filming, and in actuality Kleiner had to convince Jenkins that Harris was the right actress for the role.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Films by Wong Kar-Wai were a big influence on Barry Jenkins and the production of the film, particularly the film Happy Together (1997) which also features a gay couple as the main characters, just like this film.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Naomie Harris is the only actor to appear in all three acts of the film.
Although the film is set in a rough neighborhood and guns are shown sometimes, not a single round is fired throughout the whole movie.

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