Water Dancer, The: Nia DaCosta to Direct Film Adaptation

Film Adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ‘The Water Dancer’

Nia DaCosta 10 Directors to Watch
Courtesy of Erik Tanner
Nia DaCosta will direct the film adaptation of Ta-Nehishi Coates’ best-selling novel The Water Dancer.

Backed by MGM, it will be produced by Maceo-Lyn, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films.

DaCosta directed last year’s horror hit Candyman and is also joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe with her next feature The Marvels.

Her first film, “Little Woods,” starred Tessa Thompson and Lily James and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018 before getting released theatrically by Neon.

“The Water Dancer” is a surrealist story that unfolds in the pre–Civil War South. It follows Hiram Walker, born into slavery, who lost his mother as a child and over time loses all memory of her. As a young man, Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but he’s saved from the depths by a mysterious power he never realized he had and struggles to understand. Coates is one of the preeminent cultural and political analysts, well-known for his work at the Atlantic and his non-fiction books such as “Between the World and Me.”

Winfrey named “The Water Dancer” as her first Oprah’s Book Club selection in partnership with Apple, and the book has been named one of the best books of the year by the likes of NPR, The Washington Post and Vanity Fair. It is published by One World, an imprint of Random House, and has over a million copies in print.

The film marks second collaboration between Plan B and Coates, who are also in development on the feature “Wrong Answer,” with Ryan Coogler directing and Michael B. Jordan starring. The author is set to adapt Rachel Aviv’s New Yorker story of the same name.

Plan B has several projects set at MGM as part of overall second-look feature film deal with the studio, including Sarah Polley’s adaptation of Miriam Toews’ novel “Women Talking”; Cory Finley’s adaptation of M.T. Anderson’s novel “Landscape With Invisible Hand”; and an original film from “Minari” writer and director Lee Isaac Chung.