The 89th Academy Awards, which occurred on February 26th, 2017, was full of historic moments – the youngest director in eighty years won the Best Director award and the first LGBT film won Best Picture (and the wrong film was called out for said award), among other moments. However, in a moment of national division with politics and social issues that are often so readily available as weapons of conversation these days, there was a small moment that occurred on March 1st, 2017 that hopefully has an impact and allows the Nation to have consistent solidarity.
On March 1st, 2017, Best Director winner Damien Chazelle of “La La Land” and director of the Best Picture winner Barry Jenkins of “Moonlight” sat down and had an interview that was covered by Variety‘s Kristopher Tapley.
The two directors spoke of the Best Picture mistake (which Variety also covered here), Chazelle noted: “Everything looked so energized, I at first thought there was some kind of prank going on” (Tapley 2017). While Berry Jenkins already prepared an acceptance speech but had to shelve it, until he had to quickly take it back out again: ” When we were sitting there, and that dream of winning didn’t come true, I took it off the table. But then I had to very quickly get back into that place. And my first thought was to get to the stage to give Jordan a hug as quickly as possible” (Tapley 2017). That hug perhaps, may mark the beginning of the end of racial tensions, at least, that is the hope of one who is of wishful thinking. Both gentlemen displayed class and solidarity when speaking about their films, and past work, with Jenkins talking with praise on Chazelle’s first film, ““Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench” which Chazelle notes that Jenkins, “immediately accessed my heart” (Tapley 2017). Both men saw at each other’s films respectively at Telluride last year and both of them took something special from each:
Jenkins saw “La La Land” at a screening later at Telluride and immediately felt a touch of homesickness when he saw his downtown Los Angeles apartment building featured in the film’s opening sequence.
“I hadn’t been to L.A. in, like, two months at that point. I had been traveling overseas,” he says. “It made me feel nostalgic for L.A., which I have never felt.”
Chazelle, meanwhile, was floored by “Moonlight,” just like the rest of the festival audience. “You could feel it,” says Chazelle. “It was so beautiful” (Tapley 2017).
To describe the interaction in three words: beauty, grace, humility. Barry Jenkins and Damien Chazelle irradiated with all three without any effort. Hopefully, it can begin an era of Hollywood that sets an example for the American people. Let politics be glossed over to the important issues of bringing America together and then, maybe America can be great for everyone regardless of politics.
Tapley, Kristopher. “Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins on That Oscars Shocker: The Morning-After Interview.” Variety. N.p., 1 Mar. 2017. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.