Till is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
On the 28th of August 1955, Emmett Till was brutally murdered in the State of Mississippi. Emmett was just fourteen-years-old; his light extinguished by a group of local men who beat him, disfigured him then threw his body into the Tallahatchie River. Emmett was Chicago born and bred and had encountered racial segregation all his life, but nothing could have prepared him for the unadulterated hate present in Mississippi, where he was visiting family. It was in a small store that a casual and lightly flirtatious conversation with a young white woman behind the counter would lead to a group of men hunting Emmett down in the dead of night, tearing him from the safety of his extended family.
The horrific lynching of Emmett Till was not the first, nor would it be, the last murder of an innocent black person in the United States. Emmett’s murder and the injustice of the court case that followed would see his mother, Mamie, become an influential figure in the Civil Rights Movement, her passion and strength at the heart of a fight that still burns bright. It’s here that director Chinonye Chukwu focuses her lens. Chukwu’s portrait of Mamie combines a loving mother with a courageous campaigner who had no choice but to fight for justice in her son’s name.
Born Mamie Elizabeth Carthan in 1921 in Webb, Mississippi, Mamie left the Southern United States as a child during the Great Migration. Her father would find work at the Argo Corn Company in Illinois in 1922, with her mother joining him in 1924 with young Mamie and her brother, John, in tow. There the family would find a home in the neighbourhood of Argo.
Jalyn Hall as Emmett Till in TILL, directed by Chinonye Chukwu, released by Orion Pictures. Credit: Andre Wagner / Orion Pictures © 2022 ORION PICTURES RELEASING LLC. All Rights Reserved.
At 18, Mamie met Louis Till, and, despite the concerns of her folks, the young couple married in 1940 and had one child Emmett before they separated. Emmett was Mamie’s world, and when he boarded a train for Mississippi in the summer of 1955, Mamie knew how difficult and lonely her summer would be without him. What she didn’t know was that she would never see him again.
Mamie would hold an open-casket funeral for her son to show the world the racial hatred, violence and horror that thrived in American towns and cities, working alongside the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) right up to her death at the age of 81.
Danielle Deadwyler (The Harder They Fall) brings Mamie to life on screen with a powerhouse performance that is both compelling and deeply emotional. At the same time, Jalyn Hall (Emmett) and Whoopi Goldberg as Mamie’s mother, Alma, provide a solid supporting cast. Meanwhile, Chinonye Chukwu’s restrained directorial approach never opts for dramatic fireworks or shock tactics, offering us a gripping exploration of endemic racism, injustice and oppression.
From the open racism and hate of the trial to the utter contempt of the court officials, police and community, Till is a gut-wrenching and challenging drama that asks one crucial question: When does racial oppression, hate, and injustice end? After all, while things have improved, we still see Black people routinely targeted and assaulted for no other reason than their skin colour in countries that pride themselves on being progressive and democratic. Here Mamie’s story and journey remain alive and relevant today, and Till combines its portrait of courage with a discussion on the journey that still lies ahead.
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United States | 2hr 10min | 2022
From the open racism and hate of the trial to the utter contempt of the court officials, police and community, Till is a gut-wrenching and challenging drama that asks one crucial question: When does racial oppression, hate, and injustice end?