Jesse Williams sets directorial debut with docudrama Till
Deadline brings word that Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy, The Cabin in the Woods, Random Acts of Violence) will be making his feature directorial debut with Till, a docudrama that will center around Mamie Mobley Till, the mother of Emmett Louis Till, a black teen who was lynched after being accused of flirting with a white woman in the southern Jim Crow-era.
Till is based on civil rights filmmaker Keith A. Beauchamp’s 2005 documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, which led the United States Department of Justice to reopen the case in 2004. Beauchamp co-wrote the screenplay alongside Michael Reilly (Happy Birthday to Me).
Till is about Mamie Mobley Till’s journey for justice following the brutal murder of her fourteen-year-old son in the heart of the Mississippi Delta in 1955. Emmett Till’s murder was seen as the impetus for the next phase of the civil rights movement. At his funeral, Mamie famously insisted on an open casket ceremony, exposing her son’s mutilated body and bringing attention not only to racially charged violence but also to the odious and barbaric practice of lynching.
Williams, an outspoken human rights activist, said: “I’m honored to be directing the story of Mamie & Emmett: a tale of revolutionary defiance in the face of tremendous personal and public devastation. An exploration of power and pulling back the curtain on cultural violence; of boyhood and maternity challenging America’s reflex to hide from itself; underdogs refusing to pretend that terror is freedom.”
The two white men who kidnapped and murdered Emmett were acquited by an all-white jury and later confessed to the murder in an interview published in Look magazine. However, Double Jeopardy laws protected the killers from a retrial. Carolyn Bryant-Donham, the woman at the center of Emmett’s case, admitted decades later to fabricating her testimony surrounding her interaction with Emmett.
Production on the project is set to begin in summer 2019 with the support of the Till family.
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