Emmett Till's Mother Fights for Justice in Powerful First Trailer for Biopic 'Till'

At 14, Emmett Till was brutally beaten and lynched by white men in 1955 Mississippi, and his death became a catalyst for the civil-rights movement

The true story of Emmett Till and his mother's fight for justice after his murder is being retold in an emotional new film.

On Monday, MGM Studios debuted the first trailer for Till, which is about the 1955 lynching of a 14-year-old boy, Emmett, in Mississippi.

Emmett, who was from Chicago, was visiting relatives in Mississippi when a white woman (Carolyn Bryant Donham, then 21) falsely accused him of whistling at her and attempting to grab her hand and waist while inside a grocery store.

Days later, Emmett was kidnapped from a relative's home, beaten severely and mutilated before being shot. A large metal fan was then tied to his neck with barbed wire and his body was thrown into the Tallahatchie River.

Donham's husband at the time, Roy Bryant, and Bryant's half-brother, J.W. Milam, were tried for Emmett's murder, and an all-white jury acquitted them in September 1955 after an hour of deliberations. In a magazine interview after the trial, both men admitted killing the boy.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.

TILL | Official Trailer | MGM Studios
Till (2022). MGM Studios

Emmett's death served as a catalyst for the civil-rights movement, and his mom Mamie Till-Mobley famously insisted on an open-casket funeral because "I wanted the world to see what they did to my boy."

In the trailer, Mamie, played by The Harder They Fall's Danielle Deadwyler, tells a crowd, "The lynching of my son has shown me that what happens to any of us anywhere in the world had better be the business of us all."

In 2007, Donham recanted part of her story, telling Timothy B. Wilson for his book The Blood of Emmett Till that the teen never touched her or harassed her verbally.

TILL | Official Trailer | MGM Studios
Till (2022). MGM Studios

Till also stars Whoopi Goldberg and Frankie Faison. Actor Jalyn Hall plays Emmett, while Haley Bennett plays Donham.

Director Chinonye Chukwu explained during a press conference Thursday, according to Entertainment Weekly, that the filmmakers wanted to "keep [the story] focused on Mamie and her relationship with Emmett" and were careful not to "re-traumatize audiences or myself."

Chukwu also said it was "important" to the project "that we see, feel and hear [Emmett] be a boy before what would inevitably happen to him."

Till is in select theaters Oct. 14, followed by an Oct. 28 release nationwide.

Related Articles