‘Moonlight’ director returns to Miami for acclaimed coming-of-age drama

Movie lovers everywhere are basking in the glow of “Moonlight.” The story of a local kid growing up during the crack-infested 1980s has been getting rave reviews across the board. It’s a home-grown project from start to finish.

Overcoming the odds and discovering your true self are at the heart of “Moonlight.”

Barry Jenkins directed the coming-of-age story about a young man trying to escape the mean streets of Liberty City back in the 80s. He grew up in the neighborhood where the movie was shot.

Barry Jenkins: “It’s not a place where you can sort of coast, you know, through life. You’re going to go through either really beautiful or really heavy things.”

Jenkins knows how hard it was to make it out of that environment — and the great things you can accomplish if you did.

Barry Jenkins: “And so, it doesn’t surprise me that a lot of people from the 12, 20 square blocks of Liberty City have gone out into the world to do some very loud things.”

Barry’s screenplay isn’t autobiographical. It’s based on a play, but he can relate big-time to the struggles of his main character.

Barry Jenkins: “You contextualize things, you know, so I don’t ever remember caring for myself, and I don’t ever remember things being tough. I kinda just got on with it, you know?”

“Moonlight” has been singled out by critics for its realistic approach to a hard-knock life.

This Miami native has taken his tough beginnings in Liberty City and turned them into something inspirational.

Barry Jenkins: “It’s a small community, and so there’s a lot of overlap. If someone else is doing something great, it makes you want to do great things.”

“Moonlight” is currently out on limited release. It expands to more theaters nationwide on Friday, Nov. 4.

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