The film, written by up-and-comer Stanely Kalu and directed by Ali LeRoi, will make its U.S. premiere after debuting to critical acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival. The story follows the titular character (played by 13 Reasons Why actor Steven Silver), a gay, black teenager trapped in a time loop that forces him to relive his own brutal murder at the hands of a police officer on duty. The Obituary of Tunde Johnson marks LeRoi’s feature directorial debut and Kalu’s first produced feature screenplay.
In addition, Mati Diop’s directorial debut Atlantics will make its U.S. premiere at the fest. The romance set in Senegal was awarded the Sutherland Award at the BFI London Film Festival as well as the Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.
The Obituary of Tunde Johnson and Atlantics join the slate of previously announced films at the fest including Ford v Ferrari, Marriage Story, The Two Popes, Waves, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Harriet and Just Mercy, which is the fest’s closing night film.
As Deadline exclusively reported, the fest will honor Oscar-winning screenwriters James Ivory with the “Extraordinary Contribution to Film” Award and Ron Bass with the “Distinguished Screenwriter” Award. AFF will also feature conversations with Lulu Wang, director and writer of the critically acclaimed dramedy The Farewell and Sofia Alvarez, the scribe behind the Netflix hit To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
AFF also unveiled their lineup of shorts which can be read below.
(France, Senegal, Begium, 105 min)
Writer: Mati Diop, Olivier Demangel
Director: Mati Diop
Cast: Mama Sané, Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré, Nicole Sougou, Amina Kane, Mariama Gassama, Coumba Dieng, Ibrahima Mbaye, Diankou Sembene
Along the Atlantic coast, a soon-to-be-inaugurated futuristic tower looms over a suburb of Dakar. Ada, 17, is in love with Souleiman, a young construction worker. But she has been promised to another man. One night, Souleiman and his co-workers leave the country by sea, in hope of a better future. Several days later, a fire ruins Ada’s wedding and a mysterious fever starts to spread. Little does Ada know that Souleiman has returned.
THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON
Opening Night Film
(USA, 104 min)
Writer: Stanley Kalu
Director: Ali LeRoi
Cast: Steven Silver, Spencer Neville, Nicola Peltz
Tunde Johnson should be happy, but there is emptiness, a sorrow inside of him he just can’t shake. He is adored by his wealthy, artist/intellectual Nigerian parents, his childhood best friend Marley and is also deeply in love with Soren, his closeted boyfriend who is the captain of the Lacrosse team. Tunde lives day in, day out with Soren’s dark secret, as he is forced to deceive Marley and live in the shadows of her relationship with Soren. Prescription pills are his only way to cope and get through the day. After coming out to his own parents, Tunde makes his way to Soren’s birthday party, with the goal of convincing Soren to finally come out to his conservative pundit father. However, before he arrives, Tunde is pulled over by the police and shot to death. He immediately awakens and is forced to live in a brutal time loop.
Original Series 1
BROTHERS FROM THE SUBURBS (USA, 35 min)
Creator: Patrick Wimp
Brothers from the Suburbs is a short-form digital comedy series that chronicles the highs and lows of three black teenagers coming of age in an affluent, suburban, white private school community.
Shorts Program 2- Escapades
ROBU (USA, 19 MIN)
Writer: Kai Hasson, Josh Hallman
Director: Kai Hasson
The story of an American teenager in Tokyo on a quest to find a lost manga and a connection with his father.
WANTED: STRONG WOMAN (Canada, 15 MIN)
Writer/Director: Marilyn Cooke
Nadege lacks the confidence to get what she wants from life… until the day she discovers a new passion that awakens the beast inside her.
Shorts Program 3- To Freedom!
BYE BYE BODY (USA, 10 MIN)
Writer/Director: Charlotte Benbeniste
When Nina fails to meet her goal at weight loss camp, she makes a deal with the devil, only to discover a new understanding of her body.
Shorts Program 6 – Getting Old
BLACK GOAT (USA, 12 MIN)
Writer/Director: Yi Tang
Pasang has her first period after hearing a late-night ghost story. She believes that she has been cursed and needs to sacrifice a black goat to avoid misfortune.
Shorts Program 7: The Kids are Alright
SUPER SONIC (USA, 16 MIN)
Writer/Director: Saleem Nasir Gondal
Wahid’s hearing-impairment has made adjusting to the chaotic pace of New York difficult to navigate… until he meets Samar at a dance party.
Shorts Program 10: Everything’s Shorts in Texas 1
FEMENINA (USA, 13 MIN)
Writer/Director: Ilana Garcia-Mittleman
A dedicated boxer is forced to confront his sexuality after he begins training with and falling for a transgender woman.
Shorts Program 8: Family Matters
THE SHABBOS GOY (USA, 7 MIN)
Writer/Director: Talia Osteen
God literally forbids she turn off a vibrator gone rogue, so an Orthodox Jew sets out on a quest to find someone who can.
JANE (USA, 16 MIN)
Writer/Director: Kathryn Prescott
A young woman suffering from heroin addiction and living in one of downtown Los Angeles’ many Single Room Occupancy hotels receives an invite to her estranged four-year-old daughter’s birthday party.