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The African American Film Critics Association's 11th Annual AAFCA Awards - Inside

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As reported by various outlets, including Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter, 32-year-old Nia DaCosta has been chosen to direct the film adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ debut novel, The Water Dancer. Winfrey’s Harpo Films will be producing the movie, along with MGM Studios, Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, and Maceo-Lyn, which is Coates’ own media company. The Between the World and Me author founded Maceo-Lyn with his longtime friends Kamilah Forbes and Kenyatta Matthews.

The Water Dancer landed on multiple “Books of the Year” lists in 2019 and was listed as a New York Times Bestseller as well. It was also selected to revive Oprah Winfrey’s popular book club three years ago, in conjunction with Apple.

The book’s protagonist is Hiram Walker, a Black boy from Virginia born into slavery. Hiram loses his mother at an early age and all memory of her as he matures. “Now a young man, Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river,” the synopsis reads, “but is saved from the depths by a mysterious power he never realized he had and struggles to understand.”

Esi Edugyan had praise for the novel in her New York Times review. “Coates explores how the system was upheld by a willful ignorance, the dehumanization of black people perpetuated through a deliberate lack of empathy,” she wrote. “To understand is to begin to see a commonality, and to allow such a sentiment to creep in would bring about the downfall of the whole system.”

And DaCosta’s appointment is not unwarranted, either. Last year, the Brooklynite became the first Black woman director to have a movie debut atop the box office with Candyman. She’s also been tapped to direct The Marvel, one of the upcoming Phase 4 entries to the MCU and the sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel.

Nia DaCosta Tapped To Direct Film Adaptation Of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Bestseller, “The Water Dancer”  was originally published on