Filmmaker Solomon Onita Jr. paired up with “The Chi” actor Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine and “Beasts Of No Nation” star Abraham Attah for Onita’s 2020 feature directorial debut “Tazmanian Devil,” which has now been released on a major streaming service.
The film follows a Nigerian immigrant’s struggle to balance his desire to join a college fraternity and bonding with his religious father. Birdman and Benny Boom served as executive producers on the film, which won Onita the first American Black Film Festival John Singleton Director Award for Best First Feature for a director of African descent in 2020. Mwine talked to Atlanta Black Star about the project recently.
“Solomon Onita Jr., who wrote and directed the film, is just a whiz kid,” Mwine said of working on the film. “He brought together an incredible team, and he has such a clear vision of what he wants but at the same time, he’s an incredible collaborator,” Mwine said. “It was a really amazing set to be on because it was a labor of love,” he continued. “It was an indie feature, so everyone who was there was not there for a paycheck. We were there because we loved this story and we wanted to help bring it to life,” Mwine said.
Typically, indie films are financed by individuals and not major studios. Onita sought the funding for his vision from friends and family, as well as his fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha, of which executive producer Benny Boom is also a member.
“He reached out to him, and it was Benny who helped us get across the finish line. So it was really a family and fraternal affair that made this become possible,” Mwine said. Back in 2019, Boom, who partnered with Bryan “Birdman” Williams, told Deadline that Birdman had supported him since his first years directing and that the joint venture was a natural business and creative transition.
The brotherhood and fraternity life not only helped to make the film possible but served as a large theme within it as Dayo, played by Abraham Attah, finds himself through a fraternity called the Tazmanian Devils, much to the dismay of his father, played by Mwine, who is a priest.
“He actually finds his pledge book in the bag that says Tazmanian Devils,” Mwine revealed. “His son has actually found his own voice through the fraternity — his own independence,” he continued. The film will be available on Amazon on Demand on Feb. 9.