The first time Barry Jenkins wrote and directed a feature film — the romantic drama Medicine for Melancholy — he drew on his personal experiences of moving to San Francisco for the sake of a woman, only to see the relationship fizzle.
Medicine for Melancholy premiered at the 2008 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin and was distributed theatrically in 2009 by IFC Films. Since then, Jenkins, 35, a Miami native and Florida State University graduate, has been making commercials and short films (including 2011’s Chlorophyl, commissioned by Lucas Leyva and Andrew Hevia for the Borscht Film Festival). He has also worked at the Telluride Film Festival programming shorts and moderating Q&As.
Now, Jenkins is returning to his home turf to write and direct his second feature film – Moonlight, an adaptation of the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by MacArthur Fellow (and fellow Miamian) Tarell Alvin McCraney. The movie will follow the coming-of-age of a young man in Liberty City told in three vignettes, set in the late 1990s, the 2000s and present-day.
“We want this to be a Miami film,” Jenkins said. “We couldn’t shoot it anywhere else. We want Miami voices and faces. Medicine was personal to me for that period in my life, but this is even more personal. This is the city that created me. To make it as authentic as possible, we want to get people from the city in the film. Instead of being a reflection of Miami, we want it to be Miami.”
To help achieve that authenticity, Jenkins is conducting an open casting call from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the African Heritage Cultural Center, 6161 NW 22nd Ave. in Miami. The filmmaker is seeking out fresh talent for lead roles, so no previous acting experience is required. Candidates should be black/African American, male and between the ages of 10-13 or 16-24. You can just show up or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.