The new trailer for Till, a film about 14-year-old Emmett Till, has just dropped and the forthcoming film release is one to mark in your diaries.
The film is based on the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley‘s fight for justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett, who was murdered in a racially-motivated attack in 1955.
In order to make a film about this horrifying case that it would be possible for audiences to sit through, director Chinonye Chukwu focuses not on the murder itself but on Till’s mother’s story.
“He just doesn’t understand how different things are in Mississippi,” says Till-Mobley to her friends in the trailer. Then you see Chicago-born Till take a train to the south and see an exchange taking place between Till and a young white woman at a grocery store, followed soon after by Till-Mobley standing in a courtroom, heavy tears rolling down her cheeks.
“This was my boy,” she says.
The Emmett Till case is one of the most famous murder cases in America. Following a conversation with a 21-year-old white married grocery store owner, Till was accused of flirting with the woman. Several days later, the teenager was abducted by the woman’s husband and brother-in-law, who then tortured and killed the young boy.
Just one month later, an all-white jury found the men not guilty. The following year the perpetrators not only admitted to the murder but sold their story to a magazine – they were protected by double jeopardy (when someone can’t be tried twice).
Whoopi Goldberg, who is a producer on the film alongside James Bond creator Barbara Broccoli, will also star as Alma Carthan, Emmett’s grandmother.
Joining her is Danielle Deadwyler (The Harder They Fall) as Till-Mobley, Frankie Faison (The Wire) as John Carthan, Emmett’s grandfather and Haley Bennett (The Magnificent Seven) as the 21-year-old woman.
Director Chukwu, whose past writing and directing credits include the 2019 film Clemency, has written the script alongside filmmaker Keith Beauchamp. Beauchamp made the 2005 documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till.
He is said to have been deeply devoted to the Till case since the late nineties, when he first started researching his documentary, and is reported to have worked closely – and built a friendship – with Till-Mobley up to her 2003 death.
At a virtual event that was reported on by The Wrap in July, Chukwu said: “I don’t want to traumatise or re-trauamtise audiences or myself. We don’t need to see it to understand or get a sense of the horror that happened.”
She also explained that Beauchamp’s close connection with the Till family, “really opened the door for me… being embraced as the filmmaker of this movie, and making sure that we get it right on a factual level and an emotional level.”
In 1955 in the US, Jim Crow laws – laws that enforced segregation between black and white people in the South – still dictated the way that citizens lived. The laws were brought into effect in the Reconstruction period after the American Civil War and ran all the way up to the Fifties and Sixties.
Although the 1896 “separate but equal” justification was overturned in 1954, the entrenched Jim Crow laws continued to have an effect on Southern communities for decades to come.
Till will be released in October 2022