Emmett Till biopic trailer released, will debut at New York Film Festival

MGM Studios released the first trailer for its forthcoming biopic “Till,” which tells the chilling story of Emmett Till — a 14-year-old black boy who was abducted, tortured and lynched in Mississippi in 1955.

The film — set for release in select theaters on Oct. 14 and for general release on Oct. 28 — will tell the story of not only Emmett’s death, but his mother’s brave fight for justice to be served.

“Till” will premiere at the 60th New York Film Festival in Lincoln Center on its opening weekend. The exact date has yet to be announced.

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

Directed by Chukwu, the film also stars Whoopi Goldberg, Frankie Faison, Haley Bennett and Sean Patrick Thomas.

The trailer, released on Monday, shows Emmett’s mother (played by Danielle Deadwyler) fighting back tears as she says, “This was my boy, Emmett Till.”

The clip then shows Emmett (played by Jalyn Hall) preparing for his visit to see his cousins.

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

Carolyn Bryant Donham then just Carolyn Bryant and 21 years old — advances accused Emmett of making improper and obscene comments toward her while she was working the register at her family’s store in Money, Miss., in August 195.

Emmett Till was abducted, tortured and lynched in Mississippi in 1955.

Emmett, who was in town from Chicago to visit relatives, allegedly whistled at her, according to a cousin who experienced the interaction. Such an interaction violated the racist code of behavior in the Jim Crow-era South.

Donham told her husband, Roy Bryant, about the alleged encounter. Enraged that a black boy allegedly came on to his white wife, Bryant and his half-brother John William Milamped the young teen from his great-uncle’s house two nights later and subsequently kidnapped him, shot him and tossed his body in a river.

Emmett’s body was discovered three days later.

In this 1955 file photo, Carolyn Bryant poses for a photo.
In her unpublished memoir, Carolyn Bryant Donham, shown here in 1955, claims she was a victim in the Emmett Till witch hunt.

Following a murder trial, an all-white jury acquitted the men. Months later, they admitted to their crimes in a magazine interview.

A woman, possibly Donham, identified Emmett to his killers, according to testimony from the case — prompting the warrant for her arrest.

The warrant was reported in papers at the time but never served. The Leflore County sheriff had told reporters that he didn’t want to “bother” the woman since she was the mother of two young children.

Earlier this month, dozens of protesters stormed a senior living center in Raleigh, NC, where they thought Donham, now in her 80s, might be, in a bid to come face to face with her.

Emmett Till's mother, Mamie Bradley, fought for justice after the brutal murder of her 14-year-old son.
Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Bradley, fought for justice after the brutal murder of her 14-year-old son.

Protesters shouted, “Time to face your demons. Come on out,” after the decades-old arrest warrant was found in the case.

Emmett’ family and supporters made a renewed push for Donham’s arrest after the 70-year-old warrant against her was found in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse in June.

Also earlier this month, an unpublished memoir obtained by the Associated Press claimed she was a victim just like Emmett because of the way her life changed after the murder.

Carolyn Bryant Donham, right, allegedly identified Emmett Till to his murderers John W. Milam (left) and Roy Bryant (center).
Carolyn Bryant Donham (right) allegedly identified Emmett Till to his murderers, John W. Milam (left) and Roy Bryant (center).

In the written account in “I am More Than A Wolf Whistle,” Donham claimed she actually tried to help Emmett after her husband and his half-brother brought the boy to her in the middle of the night for identification.

“I did not wish Emmett any harm and could not stop harm from coming to him, since I didn’t know what was planned for him,” Donham, who is white, argued in the manuscript written by her daughter-in-law. “I tried to protect him by telling Roy that ‘He’s not the one. That’s not him. Please take him home.’”

She claimed in the manuscript that Emmett actually identified himself after he was dragged from his family’s home at gunpoint.


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