During his keynote address at South by Southwest, Moonlight director and co-writer Barry Jenkins revealed portions of the speech he would have given if his film properly won the award for Best Picture at the 2016 Oscars. Looking back at his notes, Jenkins brought up how he and co-writer Alvin McCraney are the embodiment of the film’s protagonist Chiron Harris. “Tarell and I are Chiron,” he said. “We are that boy.”
Jenkins mentioned his “very difficult upbringing” in Miami where he was born to “a mother who was addicted to crack cocaine.” He delved into his professional journey which led him to making Moonlight, including a “knockdown fight” with longtime friend and producer Adele Romanski. Jenkins claims that Romanski reached out four years later to patch things up, and “through daily riff sessions,” his greatest project to date was born.
In the midst of everything going on during the final minutes of the 2016 Oscars, Jenkins failed to mention one thought about brick walls. “I have this thing I wanted to say about brick walls,” he said as he fought back tears. “I’ve run through a lot of brick walls to get to this stage. I only realized looking back that is what I’d done. I look back and I realize there are friends who are left on the other side of those walls. It’s a very bittersweet thing.”
One of the searing images that Jenkins says he still thinks about till this day is the sight of kids from his neighborhood sneaking into the film shoot, and sitting down in his chairs. “If I cried that night, it wasn’t because we won best picture,” Jenkins said about the Oscars. “I cried because I realized I denied myself that dream for so long.”