Altitude Film Distribution has acquired UK distribution rights to one of this year’s most universally acclaimed films which is already being hailed as a frontrunner in the awards season, Moonlight by writer-director Barry Jenkins and sold internationally by A24. Altitude will release across the UK and Ireland in February.

A24 is distributing domestically to great success, opening the film to one of the highest screen averages of all time and grossing $1,472,000 to date from a limited release. They will expand the release in the coming weeks across the US.

A moving coming-of-age drama about a young African American man growing up in a tough neighbourhood of Miami, Moonlight has already won the Gotham Special Jury Award for the unforgettable performances of its cast including what critics are acclaiming as a breakout performance by former athlete Trevante Rhodes (Westworld) as the lead character Chiron. Also starring are André Holland (The Knick), Janelle Monáe (The Equalizer), Naomie Harris (Skyfall), Ashton Sanders (Straight Outta Compton), Jharrel Jerome (Monster) and Mahershala Ali (Luke Cage).

The second feature from writer-director Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy), Moonlight is being hailed for its restrained and emotional power, and evocative imagery and beauty within its portrait of African-American gay male experience in an America where race and class are defining aspects of life and which present today within Black Lives Matter. An immediate hit with critics and industry at its premiere at Telluride and subsequent festival presentations at the Toronto and London film festivals, Jenkins is being seen as a vital creative voice in contemporary cinema.

Moonlight is the story of a young black man Chiron from his early childhood in his depressed Miami neighbourhood to adulthood in Atlanta as he navigates the dangers of drugs and violence in the 1980s, in addition to his burgeoning homosexuality and love for his best friend played by Jharrel Jerome and André Holland. Broken up into three chapters of Chiron’s life over 10 years, three actors play Chiron: newcomer Alex Hibbert as the quiet boy nicknamed Little dealing with the taunting of bullies, Ashton Sanders and then as the older Chiron, Trevante Rhodes.

Backed by A24 and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, the producers are Jeremy Kleiner, Dede Gardner, and Adele Romansk; the executive producers are Sarah Esberg, Tarell McCraney and Brad Pitt; co-producers are Andrew Hevia and Veronica Nickel; and John Montague is associate producer.

Will Clarke for Altitude says, “Moonlight is one of those life-affirming films that immerses you in its universal themes and kaleidoscopic view of life but told with such emotional intimacy, delicacy and beauty that no-one could fail to be moved in a way that is surprising and unforgettable. It is pure cinema and a milestone in independent film. Altitude is delighted and proud to be working with our friends at A24 once again, as well as the incredible team at Plan B Entertainment, in bringing this important and inspiring film to UK audiences.”