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On the eve of Juneteenth, filmmaker Nia DaCosta shared her thoughts on the connections between the holiday and her own upcoming horror film, Candyman.

Candyman, which will be in theaters on August 27th, is the newest film in the Candyman franchise. The films depict the Candyman, a Black man who was killed in a hate crime before coming back as an urban legend.

A “spiritual sequel” to the original 1992 film directed by Bernard Rose, DaCosta’s new film takes a modern approach to the source material. It tells the story of visual artist Anthony McCoy (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who moves into the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood the Candyman was known to inhabit. There, he learns about the legend and unravels its complicated history. 

Also among the film’s mostly-Black cast are Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Colman Domingo, and Vanessa Estelle-Williams. Tony Todd reprises his role as the Candyman, and Jordan Peele co-wrote the film along with DaCosta and Win Rosenfeld.

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, commemorates the official end of slavery in the United States. The day was made a federal holiday on Thursday when President Joe Biden signed it into law.

In recognition of the holiday, DaCosta discussed the “duality of the Black experience” in the United States that consists of both hope and pain. She believes both Juneteenth and Candyman bring this nuanced experience to light.

“Horror is a really effective tool when it comes to telling stories about things that impact us on a social level,” said DaCosta. “The very function of it is to make you uncomfortable, and I think that discomfort is attached to explorations of race or gender. You have to, then, reconcile your feelings about race and gender.”

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