New American film on Emmett Till

This video from the USA says about itself:

15 October 2017

Kevin Wilson Jr. talks “My Nephew Emmett” at Woodstock Film Festival 2017.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

3 January 2018

In December, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Short Films and Animation branch selected its shortlist of 10 live-action short films (out of 165 submissions) to contend for Oscar nominations.

After January screenings, branch members will narrow this down to the final five nominees. Nominations for the 90th Academy Awards will be announced January 23. The ceremony will be held March 4 this year.

In the age of the $200 million blockbuster, short fiction films hold no interest for the box-office-obsessed media. However, such works may demonstrate considerable artistry and insight. Like the short story, the short film is capable of isolating and treating a dramatic moment with great intensity and resonance.

My Nephew Emmett

The brutal murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till on August 28, 1955, in Mississippi, horrified millions and helped ignite the Civil Rights movement. At the time, Till, an African American boy from Chicago, was visiting family in Money, Mississippi. Four days before his murder, Till stopped at Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market, encountering Carolyn Bryant, a white woman. At the time Bryant claimed Till flirted with her. Years later she admitted this was a lie.

Based on Bryant’s mere accusation, her husband Roy and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, seized Till from his great-uncle’s house, forced the young boy to carry a 75-pound cotton-gin fan to the bank of the Tallahatchie River and take off his clothes. They then beat him, gouged out his eye, shot him in the head, and threw his body, tied to the cotton-gin fan with barbed wire, into the river.

Till’s killers were acquitted by an all-white jury, all of whose members had been visited and threatened by the Ku Klux Klan, although there was little or no question about their guilt.

Written and directed by Kevin Wilson, Jr., My Nephew Emmett recounts the hours leading up to the atrocity. Emmett (Joshua Wright) is visiting his great-uncle Mose Wright (L.B. Williams) and great-aunt Elizabeth (Jasmine Guy) in rural Money. Emmett returns from a Saturday night excursion in good humor, but Mose is worried that the boy is naïve about the town’s racism.

Mose’s most disturbing fears are realized when there is an incessant pounding on his door at 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Three men, two white and one black, force their way into Mose’s home, demanding to know “where is the nigger who whistled at my wife?”

They push Mose aside, drag Emmett out of bed, and punch him, saying, “Don’t ever look a white man in the eyes again.” Mose pleads for Emmett’s life, begging to be taken in the boy’s stead. My Nephew Emmett ’s final scene shows a petrified Emmett being thrown into the back of a truck.

“Three days later, Mose Wright identified the body of Emmett Louis Till at the Tallahatchie River”, the movie’s postscript informs us. Movingly, there is a short video clip of the real Mose Wright.

The murder of Emmett Till and the freeing of his killers was a seminal event in the history of the struggle against racism, galvanizing opposition to Jim Crow segregation and racist terror. Furthermore, the decision by Mamie Till Bradley, Emmett’s mother, to have an open-casket funeral so the world could witness his mutilated remains, left an indelible mark.

Last Thursday, the Associated Press reported that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) had reopened its investigation into the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American from Chicago who was murdered while visiting relatives in Mississippi: here.

WHITE NATIONALIST FLAG SEEN AT NEW EMMETT TILL MEMORIAL A group carrying a white nationalist flag tried to film a video in front of the recently installed memorial for Emmett Till over the weekend, according to security footage captured at the site. The group seemed to be making some sort of propaganda video. [HuffPost]

WHY EMMETT TILL’S STORY REMAINS UNDER THREAT Emmett Till was 14 when he was lynched by two white men in 1955, a horror that catalyzed the Civil Rights Movement and cast a light on the unspeakable brutality inflicted on African-Americans in Mississippi. Today, family members, local officials and others are fighting to keep Till’s memory alive — even as others attempt to erase his story. [HuffPost]

7 thoughts on “New American film on Emmett Till

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