At a time when over 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, few images have the lasting power to provoke universal outrage and inspire change. But back in 1955, at a time long before such platforms existed, the shocking photographs of the dead body of 14-year-old black boy Emmett Till, lynched to death by two white men in Mississippi, helped to ignite the civil rights movement in America. In director Chinonye Chukwu’s moving biopic Till, the murder of Emmett Till (Jalyn Hall) becomes known across America after his grief-stricken mother Mamie Till Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler) decides to show Emmett’s body in an open casket and allow Jet magazine to publish the photos, saying, “The whole world has to see what happened to my son.”
Chukwu charts Mamie’s transformation from a grieving mother to a civil rights activist. “Mamie was very aware and intentional about the power of the image to really bring awareness that would result in a level of change and activism and to galvanize people into doing something,” Chukwu says in a featurette about Till. Actress Deadwyler delivers a searing performance as Mamie, after her memorable star-turn in Station Eleven. No stranger to playing mothers in turmoil, her first feature role had been a homeless alcoholic mother in the TV movie A Cross to Bear. Nigerian-American writer and director Chukwu became the first Black woman to receive the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for her film Clemency, which follows a prison warden (Alfre Woodard) who begins to question the morality of capital punishment after witnessing back-to-back executions.
Till is produced by Keith Beauchamp, Barbara Broccoli, Whoopi Goldberg, Thomas Levine, Michael Reilly, and Fredrick Zollo. Chukwu co-wrote the script with Beauchamp and Reilly, and executive produced with Preston Holmes. Here’s all the information you need to watch the movie.
When Is Till Coming to Movie Theaters?
You can watch Till in select theaters starting October 14, 2022, and nationwide beginning Oct. 28. The movie premiered on the opening weekend of the New York Film Festival this year on September 30.
Is Till Streaming Online?
At this moment, it doesn’t look like Till will be streaming anywhere, at least not when it first releases. That said, it is very likely that the movie will come to one of the major streaming services before long so keep an eye on this space for updates about Till‘s streaming release.
Watch the Till Trailer and Featurette
In Till’s powerful trailer, young teenager Emmett Till prepares to leave Chicago to visit his cousins in Mississippi. His worried mother Mamie warns him that “they have a different set of rules down there. You have to be careful. Be small.” A fun-loving kid who likes to joke around, Emmett travels to Mississippi still oblivious to how dangerous it can be. His joyful life takes a tragic turn after an innocent visit to a small store. Emmett unwittingly offends the store owner Carolyn Bryant (Haley Bennett), whose accusation against him leads to his kidnapping and lynching at the hands of two white men.
When Emmett’s brutalized body arrives back in Chicago, a grieving Mamie declines a funeral director’s offer to “fix him up a little bit.” Instead, Mamie insists on showing Emmett’s body in an open casket and allows a magazine to take photographs so shocking and indelible that they spark universal outrage. Turning her grief into action, Mamie becomes a powerful advocate for civil rights. “The lynching of my son has shown me that what happens to any of us anywhere in the world had better be the business of us all.”
In a featurette titled “A Mother’s Power”, Deadwyler recalls that she was just in elementary school the first time she heard about Emmett Till. Producer Whoopi Goldberg says, “It’s one of those stories that, if you’re black, you’ve heard about.” Director Chukwu praises the courage of Mamie who made sure the whole world knows about her son. “Most of us would not know who Emmett Till was if it weren’t for Mamie.” Deborah Watts, the cousin of Emmett Till and co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, says, “Mamie turned tragedy into purpose, which is why we sit here today.”
Check out Till‘s official synopsis below:
Till is a profoundly emotional and cinematic film about the true story of Mamie Till Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, who, in 1955, was lynched while visiting his cousins in Mississippi. In Mamie’s poignant journey of grief turned to action, we see the universal power of a mother’s ability to change the world.
Essential Movies About Racial Injustice That You Can Watch Right Now
Whether they are about historical figures or ordinary people, these deeply human and profoundly moving films about racial injustice should inspire societal change and everyday kindness.
Fruitvale Station: Director Ryan Coogler reconstructs the final 24 hours in the life of 22-year-old Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a black man who was shot dead by a police officer on a train station platform in California on New Year’s Day 2009. In a story that could very well happen today, police respond to a call reporting a disturbance on a train and end up shooting at point-blank range an unarmed, handcuffed Grant, who was already lying face-down. The white policeman’s excuse? He said he thought he was using his taser, not his handgun. Like Emmett Till before him, Grant’s death would have remained unknown were it not for the power of images. Witness videos captured Grant’s death on their mobile phones, igniting a civil rights campaign.
Selma: Directed by Ava DuVernay, this historical drama chronicles Martin Luther King Jr.’s dangerous three-month campaign to secure equal voting rights for African-Americans. Attempting to march in protest from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, demonstrators were attacked with clubs, cattle prods, and tear gas. King himself is punched in the mouth upon arrival in Selma and protester Jimmie Lee Jackson is shot in the stomach trying to shield his mother from the attacks. DuVernay’s powerful staging of Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge is a must-watch, as is David Oyelowo’s award-worthy portrayal of Dr. King.
12 Years a Slave: This Oscar Best Picture winner directed by Steve McQueen tells the true story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an African-American freeman who, in 1841, was kidnapped off the streets of Washington and sold into slavery. The film chronicles Northup’s twelve punishing years of hard labor on a southern plantation and his desperate efforts to escape and regain his humanity.