Till writer-director Chinonye Chukwu called out “unabashed misogyny towards Black women” after her film was notably left out of the 2023 Oscar nominations, with star Danielle Deadwyler missing out on the best actress nod many experts predicted she’d receive for her portrayal of Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley.
“We live in a world and work in industries that are so aggressively committed to upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny towards Black women,” Chukwu wrote in part on Instagram Tuesday.
Still, she tried to find her own happiness in the Oscar disappointment.
“I am forever in gratitude for the greatest lesson of my life – regardless of any challenges or obstacles, I will always have the power to cultivate my own joy, and it is this joy that will continue to be one of my greatest forms of resistance,” Chukwu wrote.
Her comments accompanied a picture of the director with civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, who is one of a number of real-life figures portrayed in the film about Till-Mobley’s quest for justice in the wake of her son’s abduction and murder.
Chukwu, who also saw her first film, Clemency, miss out on a best actress Oscar nod for star Alfre Woodard’s acclaimed performance, has been outspoken about Till not showing violence against Black bodies, partly in response to hesitation by some to see a film about such a brutal murder, and telling the story through Mamie Till-Mobley’s perspective.
Speaking on The Hollywood Reporter’s Writer Roundtable, Chukwu recalled her meeting with producers Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Broccoli.
“When I told them that this had to be centered in Mamie’s emotional point of view, and she needed to be the protagonist and we needed to follow her specific journey, they said that’s what they wanted too, and we started from there,” Chukwu said.
And she and others connected with the project have spoken about how they felt it was important viewing.
“This is not the trauma porn film that some have said this would be,” writer-producer Keith Beauchamp told THR at the film’s New York Film Festival premiere. “We were very careful in crafting the story [of Mamie Till-Mobley] to make sure that this story is told with dignity and respect. And so for those who are hesitant to see it, I understand in some cases why, but it’s very important to understand that if we forget our past, history will repeat itself. And when Emmett Till’s mother made the decision to have an open casket funeral, so that the world could see her son, it was a pivotal moment that galvanized the American civil rights movement. When we talk about Till, we have to remember that Emmett was the catalyst that sparked the American civil rights movement.”
Sean Patrick Thomas, who plays Mamie’s future husband Gene Mobley in the film, said Till serves as important viewing.
“If we keep trying to turn our backs to the ugliness that there is in the world, we’re not going to fix it,” he told THR at the NY Film Festival premiere. “We have to confront what’s going on so that we can do something about it. I only ask that people find the strength, find the patience to really take the story in, so that we can do something about it.”
In addition to Deadwyler, Viola Davis was left out of the best actress field for her lead role in The Woman King.
Goldberg, who has been campaigning for the film that she’s been working on for more than a decade, merely said on Tuesday’s The View that “unfortunately” Till wasn’t nominated.
Since Till premiered at the New York Film Festival, Deadwyler has received awards buzz for her performance, with some saying early on that she could win the best actress Oscar. Despite the Oscar snub, Deadwyler has been nominated for BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, NAACP Image and Critics Choice awards for her role in the film, winning the Gotham Award for outstanding lead performance and sharing the National Board of Review breakthrough performance award with The Fabelmans‘ Gabriel LaBelle.
See Chukwu’s Instagram post below.
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