The Obituary of Tunde Johnson stars Steven Silver as “Tunde Johnson”, a teen Nigerian-American whose parents are wealthy and supportive of him coming out as gay while the story follows a love entanglement between his best friend “Marley” played by Nicola Peltz (Transformers: Age of Extinction) and popular football star, “Soren.” Soren has his own internal struggles as he’s hesitant to come out to his dad, who also happens to be the head coach of the high school football team. One night when Tunde drives to see his love interest “Soren” (Spencer Neville from Ozark) he is pulled over by police and shot to death in a racially motivated killing. The horrific incident mirrors what we see too often with police brutality in America. However, for Tunde, he must relive the same day over and over again being murdered time and time again.
The coming-of-age, thriller drama deals with relevant issues such as racism, LGBTQA+ acceptance as well as mental health and addiction. The film was written by Nigerian native, Stanley Kalu and directed by Ali LeRoi and premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.
The film has many accolades including the Austin Film Festival, Outfest Los Angeles, Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Fesival, NewFest New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival, Philadelphia Film Fesival and Outshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival.
Steven Silver and Spencer Neville sat down with The Knockturnal to talk about their experiences playing these intensely complex roles. Spencer Neville opened about how his experience of growing up in the south with friends who had been through similar situations as “Soren” helped him understand the perspective of someone struggling to own their sexual orientation.
“I know a lot of people who have been through this exact situation. Someone in my close family has been in this exact situation so I feel like I understood it immediately,” said Neville.
Neville’s character juggles an internal conflict of wanting to be with Tunde but also feels the pressure to maintain his relationship with “Marley” as he protects his image for fear of rejection from his father. Tunde also deals with internal struggles as we discover his addiction to prescription painkillers. The heavy themes within the film will have the audience unraveling revelations about their own biases and may even leave the crowd with a new perspective on what it means to be human.
Wolfe Releasing is set to release the film Thursday, February 26th.