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This Was My Son

World Premiered in-competition at the *Academy Award-qualifying* 23rd Whitaker St. Louis Int'l Film Festival (SLIFF), November, 2014.

West Coast Premiere in-competition at the *Academy Award-qualifying* 41st Seattle International Film Festival, May, 2015.

THIS WAS MY SON is the true story of the American Civil Rights icon, Mamie Till (mother of Emmett Till), and the tragedy that inspired her to spend her life battling social injustice and racial prejudice.

"Her Pain United A Nation." -Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation

"This Was My Son ...pulses with its own strength, based on that singular performance by Mike Wiley." -Mark Bell, FILM THREAT

In THIS WAS MY SON, multi-award winning film and theatre actor, MIKE WILEY (27 IMDb wins: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1211650), in one continuous long-take, channels the historic American Civil Rights heroine, Mamie Till, in a carefully crafted reenactment-a composite of late 1950s interviews.

Mamie Till recounts the heart rending part she played in identifying the body of her only son, Emmett Till, after he had been lynched for whistling at a white woman in Money, Mississippi in 1955. She speaks to the thought process behind the choices she made that helped ignite and then fuel the Civil Rights movement in America. Mamie would go on to spend the rest of her life championing the cause and continuing to tell her cautionary tale of the effects of racial hatred and bigotry.

MIKE WILEY (actor/producer of This Was My Son), a NC-based playwright, director and actor is an MFA graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. A specialist in documentary theatre, he is the 2010/2014 Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill. As founder of Mike Wiley Productions, he currently tours seven original plays, including Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till, One Noble Journey: A Box Marked Freedom and the theatrical adaptation of Tim Tyson’s Blood Done Sign My Name to theatres and educational settings nationwide. He has appeared on Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel and National Geographic Channel and has been featured in Our State magazine, on PBS’ North Carolina Now, and WUNC’s The State of Things in addition to being named Tar Heel of the Week by the (Raleigh, NC) News and Observer. The Parchman Hour, Wiley’s newest work, was featured in as the finale event of the Freedom Riders 50th anniversary commemoration. The production has been produced by Playmakers Repertory Company, Cape Fear Regional Theatre, and continues to tour regionally. More at www.MikeWileyProductions.com.

  • Rob Underhill
  • Mike Wiley
  • Rob Underhill
  • Rob Underhill
  • Aravind Ragupathi
  • Mike Wiley
  • Mike Wiley
    Key Cast
  • Rob Underhill
  • Steven Grove
    Original Score Composter
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Social Issues, Civil Rights, African American, Black, Culture, True crime
  • Runtime:
    7 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 15, 2014
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital Canon 5d Mark ii
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • *Academy Award-Qualifying* 23rd St. Louis International Film Festival
    Saint Louis, Missouri
    November 15, 2014
    World Premiere
  • *Academy Award-Qualifying* 41st Seattle International Film Festival
    Seattle, Washington
    May 16, 2015
    Washington Premiere
  • Florida Movie Festival
    Casselberry, Florida
    May 2, 2015
  • 6th Artlightenment Art and Film Festival
    Nashville, Tennessee
    November 14, 2015
    Wins BEST INSPIRATIONAL FILM & BEST ACTOR; Nominated for *6 other Awards*: Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, Best Narrative, Best Drama, Best Overall Film, Artlightenment Film
  • The Short Film Awards
    New York, New York
    November 19, 2016
    Wins BEST SHORT FILM from the Vault SOFIE Award
  • 5th Race to Justice Film Challenge
    Los Angeles, California
    United States
    February 9, 2023
    Nominated Best Film
  • 5th Clarksdale Film Festival
    Clarksdale, Mississippi
    January 30, 2015
  • Oklahoma Urban Cinema Festival
    Nicoma Park, Oklahoma
    April 11, 2015
  • 13th North Carolina Black Film Festival
    Wilmington, North Carolina
    March 28, 2015
  • 9th Fort Myers Beach Film Festival
    Fort Myers Beach, Florida
    April 25, 2015
  • 6th Phoenix Comicon Film Festival
    Higley, Arizona
    May 30, 2015
  • The ONE (Ottawa North East) Film Festival
    Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA
    May 23, 2015
  • Snake Alley Festival of Film
    Burlington, Iowa
    June 4, 2015
  • Gwinnett Center International Film Festival
    Duluth, Georgia
    August 1, 2015
  • 10th COMMFFEST (Global) Community Film Festival
    Toronto, CANADA
    September 26, 2015
  • 21st Cucalorus Film Festival
    Wilmington, North Carolina
    November 14, 2015
  • Big As Texas Short Film Festival
    Austin, Texas
    December 13, 2015
  • Experimental Film Fest
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    United States
    April 7, 2020
  • 6th Tryon International Film Festival
    Tryon, North Carolina
    United States
    October 10, 2020
Director Biography - Rob Underhill

ROB UNDERHILL is a film and TV director, producer, writer and editor. His films have been in competition at over 200 film festivals worldwide, including ST. LOUIS and SEATTLE (both *Academy Award-qualifying* film festivals), OAXACA (Mexico), SUNSCREEN (Academy-sponsored) and CANNES (France), have received over 100 awards including for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and have scored rave reviews from top film critics like Mark Bell of FILM THREAT and Anne Brodie in CRITICIZE THIS! Featured on the National Public Radio shows, THE STATE OF THINGS with Frank Stasio and THE STORY with Dick Gordon, Rob’s work is regularly subject in newspapers, radio, TV-news and more. His work has received endorsements from major public figures such as US UN Ambassador Andrew Young, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and former North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue. Carolina STYLE Magazine recognized Rob as one of 25 "Most Stylish People" influencing positive change in the Carolinas through his films. He is a RAWards Indie Art Award recipient for Best Regional Filmmaker. He was the featured Speaker at the 2015 graduation commencement exercises for the Department of English at North Carolina State University. His work has aired on the ASPiRE network and other national US and European TV outlets. Visit his website at www.RobUnderhill.com; *like* his Facebook for regular updates at www.facebook.com/RobUnderhillProductions.

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Director Statement

Consider the following statement: "[Emmett Till's] death was a spark that ignited the Civil Rights Movement in America." -Ed Bradley, Emmy Award-winning journalist. I should have grown up knowing this story. Yet, I did not. My friends did not. In fact I had to inquire all over to find anyone familiar with this key incident in American history. This is why I have devoted years to develop engaging films that others may share and learn from, films that tell this essential American Civil Rights story. This film is a powerful and universal lesson on the dangers of sustained racial hatred. And, as exemplified by recent riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and an unyielding national media craze proceeding the tragic death of Mike Brown, we see the cycle of misunderstanding that doomed Emmett Till in 1955 repeating; this is a lesson that needs retelling not just today, but with each new generation. This film is a tool to facilitate communication, foster understanding, and catalyst healing and harmony in our communities.