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60th New York Film Festival - "Till" Intro And Q&A

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Whoopi Goldberg wants the woman who falsely accused Emmett Till and provoked his lynching to face justice and come out of hiding.

The EGOT-accomplished actress and co-host of ABC’s The View made her position clear about Carolyn Bryant Donham, expressing her disbelief that she is still not being held accountable for her actions. “I don’t want her in jail but I want her in front of a judge and jury,” she said at a Q&A session at the New York Film Festival Saturday night (Oct. 1). The session took place after the world premiere screening of Till, a new movie about the young Black teen whose death helped spark the Civil Rights Movement.

”I want her to admit what she did and what part she had,” Goldberg continued. “And then, you know, for me, that would be perfect, instead of still trying to hide what she did away.” Earlier in the year, a grand jury in Mississippi declined to indict Donham, whose lie that Till whistled at her led to the 14-year-old being lynched on Aug. 28, 1955. Her husband at the time, Roy Bryant, and brother-in-law, J.W. Milan, were acquitted of the murder but confessed their actions in an interview after. Donham, 88, was never brought in for questioning but fell under scrutiny as an unpublished memoir she dictated about the killing was brought to light.

Goldberg is one of the producers of the new film, which focuses on Mamie Till-Mobley, Emmett’s mother, and her steadfast determination in pursuing justice for her child. Till-Mobley is played by Danielle Deadwyler. Goldberg also stars in the movie as Alma Carthan, Till-Mobley’s mother. She related that she and the other producers had been working for a decade to bring the film to the screen, but the murder of George Floyd helped to get it across the finish line.

“People thought we should do some stories about Black people, after all that went on over the last couple of years,” Goldberg said. “I always say, we got popular.” She then added that despite that, there was resistance from other film festivals to show the movie until the New York Film Festival accepted.

Till also stars Frankie Faison, Haley Bennett, Jayme Lawson, Tosin Cole, Sean Patrick Thomas, Jayln Hall, and Roger Guenveur Smith. Directed by Chinonye Chukwu, the film will have a select release in theaters Oct. 14.