‘Moonlight’ Shines at the 8th Annual AAFCA Awards

It was clear writer/director Barry Jenkins was the man of the hour at this year’s African American Film Critics Association Awards dinner. In addition to scoring a Best Picture award for his film Moonlight, Jenkins was also honored as the Best Director of the year. During his speech, he told the crowd he made the critically-acclaimed film for just a million and a half dollars.

Later in the evening, while accepting another award, Jenkins explained how A24, the production house behind his indie film, supported his vision.

“Fifteen, 20, 30 years ago, the people who wrote the checks opened the door —  but when they opened the door, they said, ‘I’m going to take your voice, a little bit of it. You keep 80%, I’m going to take 20%,’ ” Jenkins said. “I’m going to quote Solange and say that on this film, those people who opened that door… did not touch my hair. I ain’t got a lot of it, but they didn’t touch it.”

Janelle Monae also won at the AAFCA Awards for her breakout performances in both Moonlight and Hidden Figures. During her acceptance speech, Monae issued a strong rebuke of Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric, and called on everyone to be more inclusive.

“It’s important that as we see those who are marginalized, that we look to provide shelter, comfort and a safe space for people to be able to just live and be themselves and be celebrated for who they are —  who we are,” the actress and singer said.

“My hope is that when we see those who are ostracized or bullied, and told they don’t belong because of their gender, their class, their race, their sexual orientation, their religious practices, because they’re wearing a turban —  that we step up to protect them from those who will seek to damage, defame, demoralize and de-legitimize their existence. We all belong. And it’s always been our job to protect one another.”

During this year’s awards, both Lee Daniels and Sidney Poitier were honored for their achievements, and Queen Sugar and Underground took home awards for being two of this year’s top TV shows.

AAFCA president and co-founder Gil Robertson called 2016 a banner year for Black film.

“2016 provided our membership with many great films to choose from,” he said. “Every movie and TV show on our Top 10 Lists could have easily been number one. The number of incredible performances by Black actors and actresses added to a very competitive field of performances and represents a step towards inclusion that our membership warmly embraces. We look forward to what 2017 has in store.”

Head over to EBONY to see images from AAFCA’s star-studded gala.