North American rights to Keith Beauchamp's doc "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till" have been acquired by THINKFilm, U.S. theatrical head of the company Mark Urman announced Wednesday. Till's murder in Mississippi helped to usher in the American civil rights movement beginning in the 1950s. The film will begin an exclusive engagement at New York's Film Forum on August 17, followed by additional engagements around the country in the autumn to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Till's murder, including a major push to church communities in the south. THINKFilm V.P. of acquisitions, Daniel Katz negotiated on behalf of the company and entertainment lawyer Steven Beer represented the producers.
Till was brutally murdered in 1955 in Money, Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman in public. After being beaten beyond recognition and thrown into the Tallahatchie River, two men were acquitted by an all-white jury. Fifty years later, Beauchamp has reconstructed the case and believes responsibility for the murder extends beyond the two men. Interviews in the film include Emmett's mother, Mamie Till Mobley, who died in 2003, as well as eyewitnesses whose stories have never been told. The film argues that potentially guilty parties are still living and liable for prosecution, prompting the U.S. Justice Department to reopen the case on May 10, 2004 as a direct result of Beauchamp's findings.
"The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till"'s New York premiere will take place as a special screening at the United Nations through The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network with luminaries Russell Simmons, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Reverend Al Sharpton, Mos Def and Damon Dash in attendance, while Ed Bradley will host an evening screening at Film Forum on opening day.
"'The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till' is not just about history, it has changed history," said Urman in a statement. "Keith Beauchamp's persistence and heroism -- not to mention his extraordinary personal charisma -- must be shared with a large as audience as soon as possible, and we are proud to put THINK's resources behind him and the film."
"Murderball" and "The Aristocrats" are current THINKFilm releases in theaters. Upcoming titles include Atom Egoyan's "Where the Truth Lies," and James Marsh's "The King".