The Film That Lit My Fuse is a Deadline video series that aims to provide an antidote to headlines about industry uncertainty by swinging the conversation back to the creative ambitions, formative influences and inspirations of some of today’s great screen artists.
Today’s subject is Chinonye Chukwu, director of Till, the heartbreaking story of the courage of Mamie Till-Mobley, who turned the brutal murder of her son Emmett Till into a lightning rod of the civil rights movement. She demanded her son’s body be returned, and insisted that the world see the price of unchecked racism and hate in the south during the Jim Crow era. The film is an awards season contender.
Chukwu comes to Hollywood filmmaking through an unusual route. Born in Nigeria, she grew up Fairbanks, Alaska. She worked her way up, before making her breakthrough at Sundance, where she became the first Black woman to win the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize for Clemency, a heartfelt drama about capital punishment that starred Alfre Woodard and Aldis Hodge. Here, she explains the sparks that helped light her fuse.