At FSU, ‘Moonlight’ Director Was a Standout Talent

The best picture winner at this year’s Oscars went to a young director, Barry Jenkins, who studied film at Florida State University. A Los Angeles Times profile illustrates how much Jenkins dug into his past to create the acclaimed film.

“Jenkins shot the movie on the same city blocks where he lived as a child — one location was an apartment balcony he jumped off to retrieve an old girlfriend’s shoe,” The LA Times notes. “His path from Liberty Square to the Telluride Film Festival, where Moonlight premiered in September, included a crucial stop at Florida State University, where he studied film with Moonlight’s producer, Adele Romanski, and cinematographer, James Laxton, who is also Romanski’s husband. At film school in 2003, Jenkins made a short film, My Josephine, about a couple of Arab immigrants who ran a laundromat where they washed American flags for free.”

“For most of us, it was a safe space to make bad short films,” Romanski told the newspaper. “Barry was the kid who was consistently making something beyond his peer group. He was exploring characters who were outside of the mainstream. What 21-year-old from Florida is making a movie in Arabic?”

Moonlight’s Oscar will be sure to raise the profile of FSU’s film program, which already ranks among the top 25 best in the country, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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