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Shatterglass Films and Chaz Ebert, the former wife of late Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, announced in Cannes that they will adapt the award-winning book Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America into a feature film.
The book is based on the life of black Chicago teenager Emmett Till, who was killed in Mississippi in 1955 in one of the events that helped galvanize the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
The book was co-written by Till’s late mother Mamie Till-Mobley and journalist Christopher Benson. Nominated for a 2004 Pulitzer Prize, it won a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award special recognition that year.
Till, 14, was visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta and was killed after reportedly whistling at a white woman. This year marks the 60th anniversary of his death. “Till’s murder, which was the focus of international press coverage, inspired Americans in their quest for justice and equality and galvanized the Civil Rights Movement that ultimately led to federal legislation and extensive legal and social progress,” the partners said in a statement.
“The full Emmett Till story needs to be told now and told well as a narrative for our times, given all that is happening on American streets today, and Shatterglass Films are the people to tell it,” said Ebert. Added Benson: “This is not an African American story, it is an American story.”
Luke Boyce, Brett Hays and Jen Shelby are producing the film for Shatterglass, with Benson also producing. Ebert and Nate Kohn are executive producing.
“We are proud to play a vital role in bringing this compelling story to a wide audience at this critical time in our history,” said Hays (Consumed). “The film will fill in the gaps in public awareness regarding the significance of Till’s death, particularly in light of recent slayings of Black youth in American cities under questionable circumstances.”
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