Just in case you haven’t been following with us online, Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture over Damien Chazelle’s La La Land… but only after the latter was initially announced as the winner.
It’s only proof that the African-American coming-of-age drama film really was the better story and movie, after it masterfully tackles heavy themes of growing up in a harsh environment and with an abusive parent, drugs, self-discovery, and homosexuality. The only problem is a lot of us here in the Philippines don’t know how good Moonlight is and why it deserved to win Best Picture, like we rooted for a while back, because it isn’t showing here. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to show here at all, based on schedule info.
Sure, one can easily read about the plight of persons of color cinema’s lack of recognition and how it’s always “white” movies dominating the Academy Awards, and how this year’s event shattered all of that after last year’s #OscarsSoWhite travesty. But it’s not the same as seeing it for yourself, and we’d rather not resort to pirating crappy or otherwise copies of the movie if there’s an opportunity to go see it legally. Considering La La Land, Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, and Hidden Figures got releases here, there’s really no reason for local movie theaters to not show Moonlight here, too. Hell, our art director Grace de Luna had to catch it in Bangkok.
It’s not really because it’s an Afrocentric story, because if that were the case Hidden Figures wouldn’t get shown. (Nobody here’s that dumb, even if Filipinos are highkey racists.) We don’t know what the official theory is, but we’re guessing because Moonlight‘s themes, especially the homosexual ones, are way too intense and liberal for an uptight and conservative MTRCB. But it shows the negative effects of drug abuse, so that’s something?
But at this point, let’s hope its big Oscar wins (it won Best Written Adapted Screenplay, and Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor) and surrounding controversy prove scandalous enough to interest people who haven’t heard of it yet. Moonlight may not be for everyone, but it does deserve a chance to be seen by as many people as possible. And if we can petition local indie movies to make it to theaters, maybe we can do Moonlight a favor, too.