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‘Moonlight’ Wins Top Narrative Feature Award at Hawaii Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

Barry Jenkins’ coming-of-age drama “Moonlight” has won the Golden Orchid Best Narrative Feature award at the Hawaii International Film Festival, Variety has learned exclusively.

The festival, now in its 36th year, announced the winners at private Awards Gala on Friday night in Honolulu. The Golden Orchid is bestowed upon the narrative and documentary films that best express artistic and technical excellence and promote cross-cultural understanding.

Moonlight,” which premiered at Telluride, is a three-part character study of a black gay man from his troubled Miami childhood to maturity. The film stars Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali.

Jurors Marlene Booth, Beth-Ann Kozlovich and Konrad Ng said in a statement: “Spare language and cinematography with a documentary feel illuminate the possibilities of love, hope and healing in this American yet universal story. The authenticity of the acting and the attention paid to emotions of the characters let the audience see the world through Chiron’s big eyes and open heart, making ‘Moonlight’ accessible to viewers anywhere.”

The jury also announced a Special Mention (Acting) for “Apprentice,” directed by Boo Junfeng. “Knife in the Clear Water,” directed by Wan Xuebo, was also recognized with a Special Mention (Cinematography).

The awards gala also honored actress Cheng Pei Pei, whose credits include “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Lilting,” and actor Simon Yam, who has starred in over 170 feature films, including “The Tenants Downstairs,” which screened in this year’s festival.

The Best Documentary Feature Award was awarded to “The Cinema Travelers,” directed Shirley Abraham and Amit Madeshiya. “Coin Boy,” directed by Li Chuan-Yang, won the Best Short Film Award.

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