Steppenwolf playwright's 'Moonlight' stirs up Oscar buzz

CHICAGO (WLS) -- "Moonlight" is already stirring up major Oscar buzz. The story was written by a Steppenwolf playwright while he was in Chicago.

In "Moonlight", a young man grows up surrounded with turmoil, addiction and cruelty. He's struggling with his identity, sexuality and yearning for acceptance and love.

"We were at this art house theatre, the Anjelika, but we're also at the AMC, this huge multiplex, where Jack Reacher is playing next door and it was regular people from all different walks of life," director Barry Jenkins said. "I do think the everyday, average Joe and Jane are seeing themselves in this film."

Naomie Harris plays the torturous, crack-addicted mother.

"Ultimately, I found deep compassion for her and I think this is a woman who's really struggling to raise her son in the best possible way she can with the limited resources she had," Harris said.

The director's first job out of college was for Harpo Films in L.A., working for Oprah.

"I remember the first time I came to Chicago, was the episode where Tom Cruise jumps up and down on the couch, they flew us all out. I was so obsessed with Chicago, I skipped the taping to walk around the city," Jenkins said.

When asked about the Oscar buzz, Jenkins said: "I can't hear it, I've got an Oscar filter. I've tuned that out! I think the one thing that's really great about it, when I first started making this piece, I thought my family and my friends would definitely watch it, anybody else I didn't know."

"What's so wonderful is, the more this happens, the more people come and see the movie and ultimately that's what we want," Harris said.
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