This scene is interesting to me because it’s a turning point. In this scene, these characters are essentially strangers to each other and have just reconnected. Miami is surrounded by water, it’s always present, and I felt that there needed to be a moment of spiritual transference between these two characters and this idea of a swimming lesson– of Juan teaching Little how to swim, how to sustain himself– seemed like the right place to do it. I told Mahershala, “This is a baptism, and I need you to teach him how to float. Teach him how to swim.” Alex Hibbert actually did not know how to swim. He’s learning how to swim as you’re watching the scene. And it’s beautiful, because in this moment, where I want this element of spiritual transference to occur – you watch a grown black man teach a young black boy how to swim in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.
– Barry Jenkins on Moonlight