Watch 'Moonlight' Director Barry Jenkins's Very First Film and Find Out What He's Doing Next

Watch 'Moonlight' Director Barry Jenkins's Very First Film and Find Out What He's Doing Next

Feb 28, 2017

Barry Jenkins didn't wind up becoming the first black filmmaker to win the Oscar for Best Director on Sunday night, but it was certainly a night of great achievements for the man behind Moonlight. Before the show, he made history last month as the first black writer/director to be nominated for Best Director and a screenplay award for a Best Picture contender.

At the ceremony, he became the first African-American (but not first black) helmer of a Best Picture winner. He also won an Oscar himself, that screenplay award. 

 

THE OSCAR WIN FOR BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

 

THE ORIGINS OF BARRY JENKINS

The honors are especially wonderful for Jenkins considering Moonlight was Jenkins's first feature in eight years, following his 2008 debut Medicine for Melancholy. But he made some shorts during that time, and he'd done some shorts before his first feature, as well. The earliest is an award-winning eight-minute drama titled My Josephine. Finished in 2003, it's a post-9/11 story about two Arab-Americans working at a laundromat that washes American flags for free. You can see it via Jenkins on Vimeo here:

 

Here is what he wrote about the film years ago when he uploaded it to the web: 

My first short film, photography by James Laxton, as always. Still my favorite. Written shortly after 9/11, wasn't actually made for another year because of the way things shook out in school. Inspired by three things: the marquee of a Tallahassee laundromat shortly after 9/11 reading "American Flags Cleaned Free," an image in my head of two people sitting atop folding tables, and my housemate at the time being obsessed with Napoleon.

We were very young men when we made this film.
 

THE OSCAR WIN FOR BEST PICTURE

Although he's not technically one of the winners of the Best Picture Oscar (they went to producers Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner), Jenkins had planned to give an acceptance speech if Moonlight won the top Academy Award. Unfortunately, due to the crazy blunder Sunday night with La La Land mistakenly being announced first, he didn't get the opportunity anyway. He did share with Entertainment Weekly, however, what he was going to say. Here it is:

Click image to enlarge

 

THE FUTURE PROJECTS OF BARRY JENKINS

As for what's next from Jenkins, since you've now seen what was first, USA Today offered up some details on his future projects. Firstly there's a TV miniseries he's writing and directing about two slaves escaping a Georgia plantation to safety in the Northern United States. It's based on Colson Whitehead's book The Underground Railroad. Then he's also scripting a coming-of-age biopic about Olympic gold-medalist boxer Claressa "T-Rex" Shields. Here's a profile on her ahead of her historic wins in Rio:

 

 

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