chinonye chukwu

Chinonye Chukwu, Film Director and Temple Grad

Director and Co-Writer of the biopic, Till, Chinonye Chukwu is making her Alma Mater, Temple University, proud.

Ever since the announcement of a dramatized biopic on the life and tragic death of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 Mississippi and the quest for justice of his mother Mamie Till, what’s been most remarkable is how several Philadelphians, past and present, came to the aid of this crucial film.

Released into theaters and general release between October 7 and the 28th, Till, famously has its musical pedigree from Philadelphia’s Jazmine Sullivan, the recent Grammy winning composer and vocalist whose end track penned with fellow Grammy and Oscar-winning songwriter Dernst ‘D’Mile’ Emile II – “Stand Up” – is an elegant elegiac grace note to a sad, perfect film.  


Then there is Chinonye Chukwu, the director who co-wrote the film with Michael Reilly and Keith Beauchamp after having been acclaimed for previous cinematic works such as Clemency (2019) and A Long Walk (2013).

With personal quotes such as “I believe that we all have a voice. I don’t believe in this idea of giving somebody their voice. The problem is that certain people are silenced, or some people are heard more than others. I think that at the end of the day, all of us as human beings want to be seen and heard,” and “My joy is a form of resistance” under her belt, Chukwu is intellectually, emotionally and spiritually equipped to have crafted a film based on the life of an innocent Black child too quickly and violently snuffed out.

Lesser known about Chinonye Chukwu is how she, a Nigerian-American, was a Temple University graduate in Philly, class of 2010, who studied as part of the university’s famed radio/television/film program and was awarded the distinction of being the first ever Black woman to take home top honors at the Sundance Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize for Clemency and its look at the death penalty and the American criminal justice system. For the record, A.D. Amorosi also went through and graduated from Temple’s RTF school. Just saying…

chinonye chukwu

At the time of the Sundance Award, through an interview broadcast on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, Chukwu discussed her time at Temple’s film school and how it was her MFA that gave her mom and dad insight as to how their daughter could move forward in the highly competitive world of film and the movie business. “I went to Temple University. I earned my MFA in film, focusing on screenwriting and directing. And that’s when my parents moved back to Nigeria. They were like, ‘All right, the baby is good.’”

While Temple University’s own website went on to write that the young Nigerian-American director had already been “tapped to direct a film based on the life of Black Panther party leader Elaine Brown,” they closed with calling Chinonye Chukwu’s bourgeoning career a “stunning” one, before exclaiming, “Owls work!”

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