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Listen to Barry Jenkins Read the Acceptance Speech He Didn’t Get to Give for Moonlight

The infamous Best Picture incident at last year’s Oscars that accidentally awarded the prize to La La Land instead of Moonlight meant that, amidst the chaos, director Barry Jenkins didn’t have the opportunity to give the acceptance speech that he had prepared. That’s a huge shame, because the moment was so significant for films like Moonlight, and Jenkins’ speech was a beautiful reminder of what that film stood for. Thankfully, during his keynote address at South by Southwest Festival on Sunday, he read the speech.

Jenkins had shared the speech before, just a few days after the Academy Awards, but this is the first time he’s read it aloud. Here it is:

“Tarell [Alvin McCraney] and I are Chiron. We are that boy. And when you watch Moonlight, you don’t assume a boy who grew up how and where we did would grow up and make a piece of art that wins an Academy Award. I’ve said that a lot, and what I’ve had to admit is that I placed those limitations on myself, I denied myself that dream. Not you, not anyone else — me. And so, to anyone watching this who sees themselves in us, let this be a symbol, a reflection that leads you to love yourself. Because doing so may be the difference between dreaming at all and, somehow through the Academy’s grace, realizing dreams you never allowed yourself to have. Much love.”

Jenkins spoke further about the limitations during his speech, referring to a moment while shooting Moonlight where children in the neighborhood (Jenkins’ hometown) were able to play outside thanks to the lights from the production. This lead to the shoot slowing down. Usually, the community had broken street lights, a sign of being “ignored by the government for its basic needs,” writes Slate, who shared the transcript:

“I turn and look back at one point, and I see all these kids who normally are running through my shot, they’re sitting at video village. They’re literally sitting in our chairs … I’ve said that a lot, and what I’ve had to admit is that I placed those limitations on myself, I denied myself that dream. I never saw it, and when I looked back at those kids, sitting in my chair … watching me make this film that’s gonna go on to win Best Picture, I see, they see in me the dream I never allowed myself to have.

It floored me, it floored me. And if I cried that night, it wasn’t because we won Best Picture. I cried because I realized I denied myself that dream for so long, I didn’t even recognize it when, through the help of my friends, I was able to give that dream to someone else.”

He was, of course, met with roaring applause.

(via Vulture, image: screencap)

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