As part of this year’s LGBTQ pride festivities, the Pérez Art Museum hosted a special night of music and cocktails last Thursday to celebrate inclusion and diversity in the community. The night included music by DJ Heather Holiday, happy hour specials, drag performances, and it culminated with a free screening of Miami’s own Moonlight, properly shown under the moonlight on the waterfront terrace. The film was introduced by Miami native Andrew Hevia, who co-produced the three-time Academy Award-winning film.
Before he introduced the film, Hevia sat down with us for a brief talk about the film, Miami, and the city’s ever-evolving art scene.
How did you get involved in Moonlight?
The movie came out of a moment when I moved back to Miami after film school and meeting Barry [Barry Jenkins, director and co-writer of Moonlight] in San Francisco. I moved back to Miami to start making stories set in Miami, and started a film festival with some friends of mine called Borscht. We did work in Miami, about Miami, and for Miami. Tarrel McCraney saw that and actually handed me a play he had written called In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, which was about growing up in Liberty City. It was halfway between a stage play and a screenplay, but it was immediately evident it was something spectacular. And then, I got in touch with Barry and told him this could be a thing he can make in Miami. Six years later, the movie becomes a reality. As co-producer I was on the ground helping Barry get the movie made, and on a small film, that means you wear a lot of hats and do a lot of different things.
How do you think the movie has changed perceptions of Miami? Especially parts like Liberty City?
When people think of Miami, they think of a very media version of Miami that’s created by people not from Miami. They think of Ace Ventura. They think of Miami Vice. They think of Dexter, which was shot in Los Angeles. And these aren’t stories about the place or how it is to live here. And Liberty City is absolutely part of Miami, but that experience had never been shown in the way Moonlight does. And that’s something I’m deeply proud of, because Miami is a wonderful, complicated, messy, and hard city to live in and Moonlight shows that in a way that is honest and beautiful.
What do you make of Miami’s current film and art scene? I’ve seen that you’ve done work with a lot of local artists.
The fact that we’re having this conversation at PAMM is huge, because growing up in Miami we had the art museum that no one seemed to go to. And the fact that thousands of people RSVP’d to come to this event tonight is proof that Miami is changing culturally. I think one of the great things about Miami is that it has found its voice as a creative space and that Moonlight, more than anything, says that. Miami has been able to nurture, incubate, and grow incredibly talented people who are able to take advantage of what makes Miami unique.
What advice would you give to young filmmakers and artists emerging from Miami?
I think the goal is to tell stories that are specific to the place you live. I think you don’t have to look too many places to find something meaningful. One of the great joys of storytelling is knowing how to communicate things that are important to you in a way that other people are able to acknowledge and understand. If Moonlight does anything particularly well, is that it communicates a very specific story in an accessible way and I think that is a worthwhile goal.
And what do you have planned for the future? Any projects you’re working on?
I’m working on a mystery-thriller set in Hong Kong with a local director that hopefully shows the city as I experienced it when I was living there for about a year.
Interview and photos by Alonso Montano