At long last, writer/director Barry Jenkins has a new feature film in the works. A24 Films is partnering with Plan B and Adele Romanski to produce and finance “Moonlight,” Jenkins’ adaptation of a play by Tarell McCraney called “In the Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.”
“Moonlight” not only marks one of edgy distributor A24’s first in-house productions, it’s also the literary-minded filmmaker’s first feature since 2008 SXSW premiere “Medicine for Melancholy,” released quietly by IFC in 2009. That loving, walking-and-talking ode to San Francisco touched on race and class in the rapidly gentrifying city, following a man and a woman over the course of a day after a one-night stand.
For whatever reason, Jenkins has struggled to get a film off the ground since making “Medicine” on a $13,000 budget, 80-page script and five-man crew, despite co-creating a commercial production company (Strike Anywhere Films) and getting boosts San Francisco Film Society. (He had, at one point, a project cooking at Focus.)
Jenkins didn’t immediately return to filmmaking after “Medicine,” taking on odd jobs in San Francisco before turning to short films (streaming on Fandor) like his 2011 James Baldwin-inspired “Chlorophyl” set in the director’s hometown of Miami, where “Moonlight” will shoot this Fall. It’s a coming-of-age story spanning three periods in the life of Chiron — his youth, his deteriorating home life and his emerging sexuality — during the War on Drugs-era of the Florida city.
A24, which has demonstrated a canny eye for tapping indies with potential such as SXSW and Cannes sensation Trey Edward Shults, will fully finance the picture, co-producing with Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Romanski (a producer on Sundance discovery David Robert Mitchell’s “Myth of the American Sleepover”).
Casting on “Moonlight” is currently underway.