2003, 60 minutes
“The film is evocative, chilling, and heartbreaking” – MSNBC
“An evocative portrait of life and death in a not-long-ago deep South” – Variety
“Intensely Moving” – The San Francisco Chronicle
“Powerful…stirring…affecting” – Chicago Tribune
“Potent” – Los Angeles Times
In August of 1955, a 14 year-old black boy from Chicago, unschooled in the racial customs of the south, traveled to Mississippi to visit relatives. With adolescent bravado, he whistled at a white woman. Three nights later, Emmett Till was abducted, beaten, and shot through the head. His body later surfaced in the muddy waters of the Tallahatchie River. National outrage and organizing were sparked in 1955 when his mother held an open-casket funeral to show the world her mangled son.
The murder of Emmett Till shook America, and opened a window on the deep social divisions of the 1950s. The case, which ended in the acquittal of Till’s two known assailants, became an international cause celebre. When tens of thousands of Americans rallied against injustice, the Till case proved to be the first spark for the American civil rights movement.
Some who lived the story of the Till case are still alive. The Murder of Emmett Till, a one-hour film anchored by interviews with Till’s mother and others who witnessed the story, aired on PBS’s American Experience in January 2003.
Producer/Director: Stanley Nelson
2004 Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film and Digital Media 2003 Emmy Award – Best Non-fiction Director Stanley Nelson
2003 Emmy Nomination – Best Screenplay Marcia Smith
2003 International Documentary Association Awards – Distinguished Documentary Achievement
2003 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award
The Murder of Emmett Till aired on PBS’s American Experience in January 2003. For more information about the film: pbs.org/wgbh/amex/till/
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