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2010 Hot 20: Barry Jenkins, Writer and Director, Strike Anywhere Films

Photography by Cody Pickens

Barry Jenkins, 30
Writer and director, Strike Anywhere Films

For writer and director Barry Jenkins, life in San Francisco is more than just an issue of black and white, but for his 2008 debut film, Medicine for Melancholy, race in the Bay Area took center stage. The film won accolades on the festival circuit including South by Southwest and the San Francisco and Toronto film festivals, and earned him a spot in Filmmaker magazine’s “25 Faces of Independent Film.” “I think race will always play a significant part in my work,” he says, “but I don’t think I’ll ever again make it as surface an issue as it was in my first film. There are plenty of other issues I see myself exploring.”

After a two-year stint as a development and director’s assistant at Oprah’s Harpo Films in LA, Jenkins moved here to pursue filmmaking. Within a year, he and five friends put out a full-length movie on a production budget of less than $50,000.

The SoMa resident now runs Strike Anywhere Films with four others and is at work on a film with Focus Features, scheduled to begin shooting next spring. This month, for local company ITVS, Jenkins is doing a short film called Remigration set in SF’s future. “I have faith that everything will fall into place,” he says. “And if it doesn’t, I know I can make a film with a few friends and very little money. That’s all I’m going on.”