A hybrid of Groundhog Day, Russian Doll, The Hate U Give and Moonlight, The Obituary of Tunde Johnson made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival — and the filmmakers and leading man stopped by for a live recording of the New Hollywood Podcast.
As Stanley Kalu’s first screenplay and Ali LeRoi’s (co-creator of Everybody Hate Chris) feature debut The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, tells the story of the titular Black gay teen (Steven Silver) from a Nigerian immigrant family who is forced to relive the day he was killed by police. The premise is cut from cloth of time loop films, but this one stands out as a queer film that expands beyond the run-of-the-mill “coming out” story, tackling topics such as police brutality, interracial relationships, being gay in an immigrant family from Nigeria, mental health, high school pressures and other topics that are on top of mind today. It effortlessly balances these issues to tell a refreshing tale of identity.
Kalu, who is currently a USC film student, wrote the screenplay for The Launch’s Million Dollar Screenplay competition and won. He received a one million budget as well as a $50,000 education grant and representation by APA and Valor Entertainment. LeRoi, Kalu and Silver talked about the socially poignant film and how it tackles hot-button topics in a way we have never seen before. Listen to the episode below.
Deadline’s live New Hollywood Podcast Panel and Cocktails at TIFF 2019 is sponsored by Fig & Olive and Inkbox. Special thanks to our partners Love Child Social House, Calii Love, Bulleit Bourbon, Ketel One Botanical and Tanqueray No. Ten.