“Candyman” Director Nia DaCosta’s Stirring Juneteenth Message
One of the best TV spots for any film in 2020 was the gut-punch of a prologue Candyman director Nia DaCosta shared with the world on June 17 of that year. Exactly a year and a day later, DaCosta was back, sharing a different kind of message, but one equally potent, with her long-awaited film finally nearing its release date. DaCosta delivered the message the day before Juneteenth—now an officially recognized federal holiday—talking about what Juneteenth means to her, and how it relates to her upcoming horror film.
“I was thinking a lot about the duality of the Black experience, and how it relates to America,” DaCosta says at the beginning of the video. “At once it’s this place of great hope, which I think is what Juneteenth represents in one way, it’s a celebration of us, of life and freedom and possibility. On the other side, it’s incredibly difficult and there’s a lot of pain and they kind of walk hand in hand. I think that’s something about this film as well, there’s still this sort of bittersweet hope.”
DaCosta goes on to explain how she began working on Candyman in the winter of 2019, right before the pandemic hit. Then, there was George Floyd’s murder, and the historic protests that swept the nation (and the world) in the aftermath, what she calls an “amazing show of political and cultural and emotional force.” DaCosta goes on, “Throughout the making of the film, the thing I always came back to was the truth of the pain that was at the center of the story of Candyman. In the real world, we create monsters of men all the time. People are murdered and they become either saints or they’re vilified. So throughout the last year and a half, it was always coming back to that truth.”
We highly suggest you watch the full video below. Candyman hits theaters, at long last, on August 27.
Here’s the official, fulsome synopsis from Universal Pictures:
Oscar® winner Jordan Peele unleashes a fresh take on the blood-chilling urban legend that your friend’s older sibling probably told you about at a sleepover: Candyman. Rising filmmaker Nia DaCosta (Little Woods) directs this contemporary incarnation of the cult classic.
For as long as residents can remember, the housing projects of Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighborhood were terrorized by a word-of-mouth ghost story about a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand, easily summoned by those daring to repeat his name five times into a mirror. In present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II; HBO’s Watchmen, Us) and his girlfriend, gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris; If Beale Street Could Talk, The Photograph), move into a luxury loft condo in Cabrini, now gentrified beyond recognition and inhabited by upwardly mobile millennials.
With Anthony’s painting career on the brink of stalling, a chance encounter with a Cabrini Green old-timer (Colman Domingo; HBO’s Euphoria, Assassination Nation) exposes Anthony to the tragically horrific nature of the true story behind Candyman. Anxious to maintain his status in the Chicago art world, Anthony begins to explore these macabre details in his studio as fresh grist for paintings, unknowingly opening a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashes a terrifyingly viral wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny.
Featured image: Featured image: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in ‘Candyman.’ Courtesy Universal Pictures/MGM