To director Chinonye Chukwu, the Academy Awards snub of “Till” only makes the historical film more relevant.
Chukwu, who was among the many female contenders shut out of the Best Director category, took to Instagram to address Hollywood’s reception of her feature charting Mamie Till-Mobley’s fight for justice following her son Emmett Till’s murder. The film has received SAG and BAFTA nominations for lead actress Danielle Deadwyler but was not recognized by the 95th Academy Awards in any category.
“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. “And yet, 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 shared a photo of herself alongside civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, who actress Jayme Lawson portrays in “Till.” The “Clemency” director previously made history at the Sundance Film Festival for becoming the first Black female filmmaker to win the Grand Jury Prize in the acclaimed U.S. Dramatic section.
In addition to Chukwu’s snub, “Aftersun” helmer Charlotte Wells, “Women Talking” director Sarah Polley, “The Woman King” filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood, and “She Said” director Maria Schrader were not nominated in the Best Director category. The lack of any female directors recognized by the Academy comes on the heels of “The Power of the Dog” helmer Jane Campion’s record-breaking win in 2022.
For the Best Actress category, there are no Black actors nominated, despite “The Woman King” star Viola Davis previously landing Golden Globe and SAG nominations for her turn in the historical epic, in addition to “Till” star Deadwyler’s snub.
“This film does not center wholly on the trauma,” Deadwyler previously told IndieWire of “Till.” “That’s the big misconception. We’re incessantly informing people that this film begins and ends with joy. That this film is critical in understanding that Black families are not just the moment in which they have experienced violence or trauma.”
Deadwyler added, “[It’s] a miracle to come to such a revelation, a reckoning of the self, of identity, and how you exist in the world. That was critical in the first conversation that [writer-director] Chinonye and I had about what does it mean for Black women to express their pain, to express their rage? And we took all of that extremely, extremely seriously…We have to keep telling [these] stories so that people are aware.”