Chinonye Chukwu’s ‘Till’ to World Premiere, Host Community Screenings at New York Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

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Chinonye Chukwu’s “Till” will world premiere at the 60th New York Film Festival.

The announcement comes on what would have been the late Emmett Till’s 81st birthday, as the country is remembering the impact that Till’s 1955 abduction, torture and lynching had in drawing attention to the brutality and persecution of African Americans in the United States. “Till” stars Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie Till Mobley and Jalyn Hall as Emmett Till. It tells the story of Mamie Till Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, after he is lynched while visiting his cousins in Mississippi. Till Mobley’s decision to hold an open-coffin funeral for her son forced the country to grapple with the oppression experienced by Black Americans and increased support for the Civil Rights movement.

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“In Mamie’s poignant journey of grief turned to action, we witness the universal power of a mother’s courage, and ability to change the world,” the filmmakers say.

The cast includes Frankie Faison, Haley Bennett, Sean Patrick Thomas, John Douglas Thompson and Whoopi Goldberg. It was produced by Goldberg, Keith Beauchamp, Barbara Broccoli, Thomas Levine, Michael Reilly and Frederick Zollo. Michael Reilly, Keith Beauchamp and Chukwu wrote the screenplay. The film is being released by MGM’s Orion Pictures and United Artists Releasing.

“Till” will debut at Alice Tully Hall. The 60th New York Film Festival will take place Sept. 30 – Oct. 16 and is presented by Film at Lincoln Center.

“In her new film ‘Till,’ Chinonye Chukwu has crafted a bracing portrait of the short life of Emmett Till and the fearless activism of his mother, Mamie Till, whose fight for justice following the murder of her son was a catalyst for the ongoing battle for civil rights in our country,” says Eugene Hernandez, executive director of the New York Film Festival and senior VP of Film at Lincoln Center. “Three years ago, Chinonye’s film ‘Clemency’ opened our New Directors/New Films festival with MoMA, and now it’s our honor to invite her to unveil this vital film at the 60th New York Film Festival, including screenings for students in partnership with Orion Pictures/UA.”

Chukwu will join her cast and producers at the film’s launch.

“I’m incredibly proud and excited to premiere my film ’Till’ at the 60th New York Film Festival.” Chukwu said. “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. Considering its storied history of programming highly respected cinema, I’m deeply humbled to be in the company of filmmakers I’ve long admired.”

“It is an immense privilege to help bring Chinonye’s singular, cinematic telling of Mamie Till Mobley’s remarkable story to audiences across the globe” said Alana Mayo, president of MGM’s Orion Pictures. “Orion is committed to being a home for a broader spectrum of creative stories and storytellers, so to be recognized by NYFF for ’Till’ is a tremendous honor, and we look forward to sharing Chinonye’s beautiful film with festival audiences and students across the country in October.”

There’s a community outreach component to the premiere. In an effort to share the film with younger generations across the country, the New York Film Festival, MGM’s Orion Pictures and United Artists Releasing will be collaborating with community partners to invite high school students to special education screenings with the filmmakers in attendance at Alice Tully Hall. In addition, the film and post-screening conversations will be shown simultaneously to students in cities across the U.S. The dates for the premiere and community screenings will be announced as part of the full NYFF60 schedule.

Deborah Watts, cousin of Mamie and Emmett Till and co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, calls “Till” a “poignant, revealing, heartbreaking yet inspiring” movie.

“This film centers my cousin Mamie Till Mobley in a startling, powerful way — it focuses not just on Mamie’s grief, but also on her heroic efforts to get justice for her son, Emmett,” Watts said. “For people who fear that they will be traumatized by this story, audiences should know it is first and foremost the story of a mother’s love. Some will even be surprised by Mamie’s fearless commitment to showing the truth,” said Deborah Watts, cousin of Mamie and Emmett Till and co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation. “Seeing this film made is yet another milestone for our family, and a testament to Mamie’s fight for justice and to our commitment to legacy. The power of history turning tragedy into triumph is something Mamie would have wanted all of us to do.”

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