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Emmet Till biopic ‘Till’ will debut at New York Film Festival

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Emmett Till’s tragic life story is coming to the big screen.

On Monday, MGM studios released the trailer for “Till” which shares Till’s abduction and lynching when he was 14 years old in Mississippi in 1955.

“Till” will debut at the 60th New York Film Festival in Lincoln Center. The exact date has not yet been shared.

"Till" a biopic based on Emmett Till's life will be releasing at the New York Film Festival.

“Till” a biopic based on Emmett Till’s life will be releasing at the New York Film Festival.
(Getty Images)

Following the debut, the film will screen in select theaters on Oct. 14 and will have a general release on Oct. 28.

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“I’m incredibly proud and excited to premiere my film ‘Till’ at the 60th New York Film Festival,” director Chinonye Chukwu said in a statement on the Festival’s website. 

She added: “As a filmmaker, to be embraced by NYFF for this particular feature and to have the opportunity to screen ‘Till’ for youth nationwide is exhilarating.”

The film stars Whoopi Goldberg, Frankie Faison, Haley Bennett and Sean Patrick Thomas.

“Till” showcases the teen’s mother’s fight for justice for her son. His mother is portrayed by Danielle Deadwyler and Till is played by Jalyn Hall. 

“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,” Till’s mother says in the trailer.

Mamie Bradley, mother of Emmett Till, cried as she recounted her son's death on October 22, 1955.

Mamie Bradley, mother of Emmett Till, cried as she recounted her son’s death on October 22, 1955.
(Afro American Newspapers)

Till was accused by Carolyn Bryant Donham of making advances and comments towards her while she was working as a cashier at her family’s store in August 1955. Till allegedly whistled at Donham, which was not tolerated during the Jim-Crow era in the south.

Donham told her husband, Roy Bryant, about the encounter which led him and his half-brother J.W. Milam to abduct Till from his great-uncle’s house. Till was born and raised in Chicago. He was in town that summer visiting relatives.

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Three days after Till was kidnaped, his mutilated body was found in the muddy Tallahatchie River, weighted down with a cotton gin fan. His left eye was missing, and his right eye was dangling on his cheek. The body was identified only by a ring he was wearing.

Bryant and Milam were acquitted of Till’s murder by an all white, male jury.

In the book “The Blood of Emmett Till” published by Duke University professor Timothy B. Tyson in 2017, Donham was quoted retracting her accusations against Till 62 years later.

Defendant Roy Bryant smokes a cigar as his wife, Carolyn Bryant, happily embraces him and his half-brother, J.W. Milam and his wife show jubilation. Bryant and Milam were cleared by an all white, male jury of the charge of having murdered Till, a 14-year-old Chicago boy who was black. 

Defendant Roy Bryant smokes a cigar as his wife, Carolyn Bryant, happily embraces him and his half-brother, J.W. Milam and his wife show jubilation. Bryant and Milam were cleared by an all white, male jury of the charge of having murdered Till, a 14-year-old Chicago boy who was black. 
(Getty Images)

“Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” the book quotes her as saying.

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Relatives of Till pushed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reopen the case in 2017 following publication of the book. Deborah Watts, Till’s cousin and co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, told the Associated Press at the time that it is “wonderful” that the killing is getting another look, but didn’t want to discuss details.

Till’s murder became a rallying point for the civil rights movement and the casket he was buried in is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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