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“Moonlight” Wins the Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay

"Moonlight" screenwriters Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney beat out Kenneth Lonergan's "Manchester" script to win the award.

Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins Spirit Awards, Best Screenplay

Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins win the Spirit Award for Best Screenplay


Moonlight” screenwriters Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney won the Best Screenplay Award at the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

READ MORE: IndieWire’s Final Oscar 2017 Predictions: ‘La La Land’ Will Win Nine of Its 14 Nominations

Director-writer Barry Jenkins dedicated the award to producer Adele Romanski, who told Jenkins that after taking years to follow up his first feature (“Medicine for Melancholy”) he needed to “get the fuck off the couch, get out of the country and write.”

McCraney quoted scripture in his acceptance speech, referencing the “diverse temptations” that he and Jenkins experienced growing up in the Liberty City section of Miami.  He thanked Jenkins “for looking at that life and thinking that was a story worth telling and sharing.”

Also nominated were Kenneth Lonergan for “Manchester by the Sea,” Mike Mills for “20th Century Women,”  Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias for “Little Men,” and Taylor Sheridan for “Hell or High Water.”

Both “Moonlight” and “Manchester By the Sea” are favorites to win Best Screenplay Oscars tomorrow night at the Academy Awards as they find themselves in different categories.  Jenkins and McCraney are nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay (the script is based on McCraney’s very personal play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue”), while Lonergan is nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

READ MORE: 2017 Independent Spirit Awards: Who Will Win and Who Should Win — Critics Survey

The Spirit Awards are different than the dozens of other awards leading up to the Academy Awards as they are specifically designed to celebrate the best of independent film. “Independent” is defined by the rules committee as meaning uniqueness of vision, original/provocative subject matter, and made for less that $20 million (which is why “La La Land” was ineligible this year). Film Independent and IFP Members vote on the winners.

As has become a tradition, the 32nd Annual Spirit Awards were held in a beachfront tent next to the Santa Monica Pier the Saturday afternoon before the Academy Awards. Comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney hosted the show.

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