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While [Keith A. Beauchamp]'s film has had only special screenings, [Stanley Nelson]'s "The Murder of [Emmett Louis Till]" was shown on PBS' "American Experience" series last year and in February and has won both an Emmy and a Peabody Award. It has also been screened at film festivals, winning a special jury prize at Sundance. Because of public response at the festivals, Nelson said, he initiated a postcard campaign to have the investigation reopened. More than 10,000 cards were mailed to the state attorney general in Mississippi, Nelson said.
Though they differ in tone - Beauchamp's work is more elegiac, Nelson's more structured - both films bring the viewer back to a time and place in which the life of blacks was constricted by a severe social code that could be breached only at the risk of death. As Nelson's film points out, more than 500 black men were lynched in Mississippi in the 75 years before Till was killed; most had been accused of associating with white women. Two black men recently had been killed in the state for registering black voters. And Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 school desegration decision, had much of the South "spitting fire."
1) NEWSDAY PHOTO / BRUCE GILBERT - Filmmaker Keith Beauchamp is trying to raise money to complete his film on the murder of Till nearly 50 years ago. 2) NEWSDAY PHOTO / BRUCE GILBERT - Stanley Nelson won an Emmy, in background, for his documentary "The Murder of Emmett Till." He initiated a postcard campaign asking the Mississippi attorney general to reopen the case; 10,000 wrote. 3) COURTESY ESTATE OF [Mamie Till Mobley] - Till, who was visiting relatives in Mississippi, was only 14 when he was killed.