Short of the Day
Shot by DP James Laxton.
Barry Jenkins did not come out of nowhere. While it’s true that his feature Moonlight has catapulted him onto the A-list and made him one of America’s top directors to watch, and though all this attention means scores of filmgoers are learning about him for the first time, Jenkins has been here. His first feature, Medicine for Melancholy, premiered at SXSW in 2008 and received accolades from such notable organizations as the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.
Before that Jenkins was film student at Florida State University trying to find his voice and get it out to the masses. The short film My Josephine was the very first effort Jenkins committed to celluloid, and it was written shortly after the events of 9/11 and inspired, Jenkins says, be three things:
..the marquee of a Tallahassee laundromat shortly after 9/11 reading “American Flags Cleaned Free,” an image in my head of two people sitting atop folding tables, and my housemate at the time being obsessed with Napoleon.
Those are some pretty vague starting points, and where Jenkins takes them over the eight-minute course of the film is somewhere truly unexpected and inspired. My Josephine was shot by James Laxton, Jenkins’ DP on both Medicine for Melancholy and Moonlight; this time a few months from now you’ll likely know him as Academy Award Nominee James Laxton, and it’s easy to see the first flourishes of style here that come to beautiful fruition in Moonlight.
Jenkins’ too showed directorial deftness from the beginning. My Josephine is meditative and subtle but packs a powerful emotional resonance, as we’re coming to expect from the writer-director.
If you loved even just a single second of Moonlight you owe it to yourself to see the origins of Jenkins’ storytelling style and Laxton’s visual aesthetic, both of which are bursting with potential in My Josephine.