Back to IndieWire

‘Candyman’ Director Nia DaCosta Discusses Importance of Juneteenth — Watch

"Candyman" director Nia DaCosta noted that the upcoming film has a sort of "bittersweet hope" that is influenced by Juneteenth.

Nia DaCosta

Nia DaCosta and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II on the set of “Candyman”


The production of “Candyman” has been a long and twisting road for director Nia DaCosta, but the film’s premiere date is steadily inching closer. DaCosta discussed the film’s social themes and relation to Juneteenth in a feature video on Saturday.

“Especially last year, I was thinking a lot about the duality of the Black experience in America,” DaCosta said. “At once, it’s a place of this great hope, which I think is what Juneteenth represents in one way. It’s a celebration of us, of life, of freedom, of possibility. On the other side, it’s incredibly difficult and there’s a lot of pain and they kind of walk hand in hand. That’s something about this film, as well. There’s still this sort of bittersweet hope. I started working on the film in winter 2019 and so much changed in that time. We had the pandemic happen, we had the really amazing show of political, and cultural, and emotional force and throughout the making of the film the thing that I always came back to was the truth of the pain that was at the center of the story of ‘Candyman.'”

The film, which DaCosta co-wrote with Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld, is being positioned as a spiritual sequel to the 1992 movie of the same name. Per Universal’s official synopsis:

In the present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his girlfriend, gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris), 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) 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.

DaCosta noted that “Candyman” had several parallels with real-world events and discussed how horror can be used to analyze important social and cultural issues.

“In the real world, we create monsters of men all the time,” DaCosta said. “People are murdered and they become either saints or they are vilified. So, throughout the last year and a half, it was always coming back to that truth. Horror is a really effective tool when it comes to telling stories about things that impact us on a social level. The very function of it is to make you uncomfortable and I think if that discomfort is attached to explorations of race or gender you have to then reconcile your feelings about race and gender.”

The “Candyman” includes Abdul-Mateen II, Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Domingo, Tony Todd, Vanessa Estelle Williams. Universal will release the film on August 27.

DaCosta’s message on the importance of “Juneteenth” and how “Candyman” is inspired by the holiday can be viewed below:

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox