‘Till’ director sparks debate over black trauma films after saying film highlights Emmett Till’s happiness

Joy is probably not an emotion that springs to mind when contemplating the tragic murder of Emmet Till. By now, most people know about the brutal murder of the 14-year-old that took place in Mississippi in August 1955.

His story has been told over and over again over the years. However, the latest retelling of the monumental moment in history hopes that focusing on his mother, Mamie Till’s fight for justice, will turn a new leaf in how people view Till’s legacy.

MANHATTAN BEACH, CA-29. JULY 2020: A memorial to Emmett Till sits in front of a plaque at Bruces Beach, a park in Manhattan Beach. Till was a 14-year-old African American man who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. Bruce’s Beach used to be owned (in the 1920s) by one of the first prominent black oceanfront homeowners, but Manhattan Beach drove them out of town and erased/rewrote the history of what happened. A new generation of residents is now asking the city to face its racist past. Many have reclaimed space in recent weeks to celebrate and honor the Black Lives Matter movement. (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“The crux of this story isn’t the traumatic, physical violence inflicted on Emmett, which is why I refused to portray such brutality on film. It’s about Mamie’s remarkable journey into the aftermath. She thrives on love for her child, because ‘Till’ is a love story at its core,” director Chinonye Chukwu said in a press release.

The film was written by Michael Reilly, Keith Beauchamp and Chukwu, who has a dual role as director of the film. The film stars Whoopi Goldberg, Danielle Deadwyler, Jalyn Hall and several other familiar faces.

A minute-and-a-half-long trailer is currently circulating on social media, in which Chukwu reiterates that the film will not recreate acts of violence against the teenager or other black people. “We’re going to start and end in a place of joy,” she said as the minute-and-a-half sizzle reel ends. This line about joy resonated with people online, where they debated whether it was possible for joy to exist in a reality marred by pain and bloodshed.

“There’s no ‘joy’ in the murder of Emmett Till? I’m still looking for the reason why this film was made. For whom is that?”

β€œThe story of Emmett Till begins with Jim Crow. And ends with a grief-stricken mother displaying the mutilated body of her murdered son in an open coffin. So America could see what they did to an innocent 14 year old boy. This is not a story to be told through the lens of “joy”.

“The fact that y’all don’t want to see the box office because it’s black trauma, but seeing that White Man series… y’all realize the Emmett Till anti-Lynch act wasn’t until April this year was filmed???”

On March 29 of this year, the Emmett Till anti-lynching law became law, more than 60 years after the teenager was murdered for allegedly referencing a white woman in the segregated South. The bill, which also made lynching a federal hate crime, provides for a harsh penalty, including: “A fine, imprisonment of up to 30 years, or both for a person who has conspired to commit a hate crime leading to… resulting in death, or serious bodily harm, or kidnapping or attempted kidnapping, serious sexual abuse or attempted serious sexual abuse, or attempted homicide.”

https://atlantablackstar.com/2022/10/04/thats-not-a-story-that-can-be-told-through-the-lens-of-joy-till-director-sparks-debate-about-black-trauma-films-after-saying-the-movie-highlights-emmett-tills-joy/ ‘Till’ director sparks debate over black trauma films after saying film highlights Emmett Till’s happiness

James Brien

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