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Editor’s note: In Focus is a video series showcasing the new wave of black filmmakers.

Earlier this year, before Barry Jenkins’ critically acclaimed film Moonlight went on to earn eight Academy Award nominations—including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay—the writer-director sat down with The Root to discuss how he got involved with the film, how the script evolved to connect to his own life story and growing up with a mother addicted to drugs.

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Moonlight follows an African-American boy named Chiron through three stages of his life as he struggles with identity and masculinity in Liberty City, a rough-and-tumble neighborhood in Miami. The film is based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

Moonlight is Jenkins’ second feature, following the success of his indie debut, Medicine for Melancholy. The Academy Awards will be handed out Sunday.

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Below is the interview, which was recorded at A24 Studios in New York City: