Writer-director Chinonye Chukwu and Orion Pictures revealed a first look at Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie Till Mobley and Jalyn Hall as her son Emmett in a trailer for “Till.”
The film tells the story of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy whose murder by lynching in 1955 became one of the catalyzing events of the civil rights movement. The events of his life and aftermath of his death unfold through the perspective of Mobley Till, whose lifelong fight for justice permanently changed the nation.
The trailer opens with glimpses into Emmett’s upbringing in Chicago, surrounded by community and family, including his grandmother Alma Carthan (Whoopi Goldberg). Ahead of visiting his cousins in Mississippi, Mamie explains to Emmett that racism functions differently in the South. “Be small down there,” she warns him.
In the next sequence, a white woman fixes Emmett with an offended expression, and the whole town seems to stop in its tracks. “This was my boy: Emmett Till,” Mamie says in voiceover as a casket with her son’s body is offloaded from a train.
Joyful snapshots of Mamie’s life with Emmett are interspersed with scenes of her testifying in court, making speeches and fighting back against those who would rather her stay quiet than risk her life for justice. When asked if her son’s body can be “fixed up” for his open-casket funeral, she refuses: “No, they have to see for themselves.”
The film also stars Frankie Faison and Haley Bennett. Tosin Cole, Kevin Carroll, Sean Patrick Thomas, John Douglas Thompson and Roger Guenveur Smith comprise the supporting cast.
“Till” is produced by Goldberg, Keith Beauchamp, Barbara Broccoli, Thomas Levine and Michael Reilly. Chukwu, who previously wrote and directed “Clemency,” penned the script with Beauchamp and Reilly, and executive produced with Preston Holmes.
At a pre-trailer launch event, Chukwu explained that, despite the tragedy at “Till”s heart, the story she aims to tell is rooted in “joy and love.”
“I wanted to keep the story, the dialogue, the tone as grounded and realistic as possible,” she said, noting that she didn’t want the film to feel like a period piece. “I was also very intentional about making sure that we captured moments of levity, of community, of joy.”
Chukwu said she hopes the film “[galvanizes] people to action, whatever that looks like,” even if that just means “reconsidering their role in making society a better place.”
“Till” opens in select theaters Oct. 14, before its wide release on Oct. 28.