By Matt Grobar
November 19, 2022
Sundance prize-winning filmmaker Nikyatu Jusu has unveiled new details about her forthcoming feature for Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw and Universal that we told you about first in January.
While information on the horror film had been scarce, we now know that it will in some form adapt Jusu’s short film Suicide by Sunlight, which world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019. “My project with Monkeypaw is an expansion of a short film I made called Suicide by Sunlight,” the multi-hyphenate said today at Deadline’s Contenders Film: Los Angeles awards-season event, “about day-walking Black vampires who are protected from the sun by their melanin.”
It’s unclear how closely Jusu’s new feature will hew to the story of her acclaimed short. But the original piece, set in a near-future New York City, more specifically tells the story of Valentina (Natalie Paul), who finds it difficult to suppress her bloodlust when a new woman is introduced to her estranged twin daughters.
The feature adaptation is being made under Monkeypaw’s overall deal at Universal. Jusu filmmaker will adapt the screenplay with Fredrica Bailey.
Jusu also today discussed the new Night of the Living Dead film that she’s been tapped to helm for Village Roadshow Pictures, Chris Romero and the late George A. Romero’s Sanibel Films, Origin Story, Vertigo and Westbrook Studios, as we were first to report. “The original made social commentary about racism and classism and all the -isms, and the best zombie films make commentary on humanity,” noted the director. “I have the blessing from…George Romero’s estate, and so that feels really good because it feels organic.” Jusu will helm that title from a script by The Walking Dead‘s LaToya Morgan.
Jusu’s appearance at Contenders came in support of her feature directorial debut, Nanny, which this year became the first horror film to win Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize. (Jusu at the same time became just the second Black female filmmaker to claim the award.) The upcoming film penned by Jusu follows the Senegalese immigrant nanny Aisha (Diop), watching as she attempts to piece together a new life in New York City while caring for the child of an Upper East Side family. It’s during this time that Aisha is forced to confront a concealed truth that threatens to shatter her precarious American Dream.
The film acquired earlier this year by Amazon Studios and Blumhouse, will open in limited release November 23 and debut on Prime Video on December 16.