‘Clemency’ director Chinonye Chukwu to direct film about Emmett Till

The film will heavily rely on the research of Keith Beauchamp.

Chinonye Chukwu made her mark when she became the first Black woman to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for Clemency in 2019.

She has now signed on to direct a new film about Emmett Till

Film Independent Spirit Awards Screening Series Presents "Clemency"
Chinonye Chukwu attends the Film Independent Spirit Awards Screening Series Presents “Clemency” at ArcLight Culver City on January 12, 2020 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)

65 years after the tragic murder of the teenager, who was lynched for whistling at a white woman in 1955, the film will be based on the story of his mother, Mamie Till Mobley.

She famously insisted on an open casket funeral for her son, marking a huge moment in the civil rights movement. 

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Chukwu will direct the film that will heavily rely on the research of Keith Beauchamp, which included first-hand accounts from Till’s cousin, Simeon Wright. 

“The film is based on the extensive research of award-winning documentarian Keith Beauchamp and his relationship with Mamie Till Mobley and Emmett Till’s cousin, Simeon Wright who was an eyewitness to the kidnapping of Till and who served as a consultant to the project before his death in 2017.  For more than 27 years, Beauchamp has investigated the kidnapping, torture and murder of Emmett Till for whistling at a white woman.  His efforts succeeded in getting the United States Department of Justice to reopen the case in 2004,” says a statement.

“I’m truly excited that we are teaming up with Chinonye to tell this powerful story. With Emmett Till’s name being spoken today among Black Lives Matter chants, it is more important than ever to understand why this senseless murder took place and the selfless actions taken by my dear friend Mrs. Mamie Till Mobley that led to the mobilization of the Modern Day Civil Rights Movement,” Beauchamp said in the statement. “This isn’t a movie, it’s a movement.” 

Read More: Nigerian filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu makes history winning grand prize at Sundance for prison movie ‘Clemency’

Michael J P Reilly and Chukwu will co-write the script.

“I am deeply honored to be telling this story and working with such an incredible producing team. Amidst the pain and brutality that is inherent to Mamie and Emmett’s story, I intend to delve deeply into their humanities, the love and joy they shared, and the activist consciousness that grows within Mamie as she seeks justice for her son,” Chukwu said in a statement. 

“Today the return of open racism reminds us that the real danger is in NOT telling Emmett Till’s story.  Chinonye Chukwu taking the helm as our director is an opportunity for us to step forward artfully and without fear to tell the truth.  We could not be in better hands,” added executive producer, Whoopi Goldberg.

The currently untitled film is expected to go into production next year.

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