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Watch: Barry Jenkins’ anticipated indie drama ‘Moonlight’ starring Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monáe

‘Moonlight’ posters
A triptych of posters released for director Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight.”
(courtesy of A24)

Amid the recent programming announcements for fall festivals, one film has quietly slipped into some of the year’s most prestigious slots, setting it up as a possible surprise discovery for the coming awards season.

“Moonlight,” directed by Barry Jenkins, saw its first trailer released Thursday, which only solidified its position as one of the most anticipated films for fall. Starring Naomie Harris, André Holland, Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monáe, the story is told across three chapters in a young man’s life.   

The credit block on the trailer gives screenplay credit to Jenkins and story credit to Tarell Alvin McCraney. McCraney’s play “In Moonlight Black Boys Turn Blue” is the basis for the movie.

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The film was announced Thursday as part of the Platform competition section at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival and also was announced recently as playing at the upcoming New York Film Festival.

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“Moonlight” is the long-awaited second feature from Jenkins, whose his first film was 2008’s “Medicine For Melancholy,” which went on to receive three Independent Spirit Award nominations.

With Brad Pitt on board as executive producer and Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner producing, “Moonlight” comes with an impressive team behind it. Through their Plan B production shingle, Pitt, Gardner and Kleiner have been involved in such recent films as “The Big Short,” “Selma” and “12 Years A Slave.”

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The movie will be released Oct. 21 in New York and Los Angeles by distributor A24, who shepherded “Room” to a Best Actress Oscar for Brie Larson and this year has had success with “The Witch,” “Green Room” and “The Lobster.” For the fall, the company also has Mike Mills’ “20th Century Women,” starring Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning and Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey,” starring Sasha Lane, Riley Keough and Shia LaBeouf.

The new trailer concludes with an exchange of off-screen voices. One says, “It’s not what I expected,” to which another responds, “What did you expect?” From the trailer, its prestige pedigree and prime festival slots, expect big things from “Moonlight.”

Mark.Olsen@latimes.com

Follow on Twitter: @IndieFocus

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