‘Moonlight’ Director Barry Jenkins on ‘Honest, Organic’ Stories of Black Struggle (Video)

Toronto 2016: “If you don’t give people a productive… image of their lives, they’re going to start to believe they don’t exist,” Jenkins tells TheWrap

Given Saturday night’s euphoria around the Toronto premiere of “Moonlight,” director Barry Jenkins is the man of the hour.

He spoke with TheWrap at the Toronto International Film Festival along with his cast as part of the conversation turned to the stories of black struggle that are being told at the annual cinema gathering.

“If you don’t give people productive, honest, organic image of their lives they’re going to start to believe they don’t exist,” warned the director, speaking to the importance of truthful images of black people on the big screen.

“I think there’s a space to be filled. That was never the point [of “Moonlight”] but I think that’s the function,” he told TheWrap.

Other rising black filmmakers showing their movies at this year’s festival in Toronto are Nate Parker with “Birth of a Nation” — who co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film — as well as Nick Cannon, who directed and starred in “King of the Dancehall.”

A24’s “Moonlight” is executive produced by Brad Pitt and stars relative newcomer Trevante Rhodes as a man named Chiron. The film covers three different time periods in his life as he confronts the struggles presented by his rough neighborhood and comes to terms with his sexuality.

The project is Jenkins’ highly anticipated sophomore film following his widely celebrated 2008 drama “Medicine for Melancholy.”

The film is based on the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney and marks the first feature to be developed in-house at indie film distributor A24.