outACTRAto, the queer committee of ACTRA Toronto, proudly announces the winner of the fourth Queer Your Stories Short Film Competition. The competition is a partnership with the Inside Out Toronto 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival, Canada’s largest 2SLGBTQ+ film festival and the single largest promoter and exhibitor of 2SLGBTQ+ content in Canada.

The competition was open to 2SLGBTQIA+ ACTRA Toronto members interested in producing a short film. Submissions were reviewed by a jury of four outACTRAto members and two senior programming staff from Inside Out. The winner receives financial support from AFBS and in-kind production support from Grandé Camera Toronto, and the film will play at the Inside Out Toronto 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival 2023.

The QYS4 winning project is Plant Daddy by Izad Etemadi and Lauren Holfeuer, directed by James Cooper and co-produced by Yoni Collins, James Cooper, Izad Etemadi, Katherine Fogler, Lauren Holfeuer, Lisbet Maclean, and Iain Stewart. The cast includes Izad Etemadi, Katherine Fogler and Iain Stewart.

Plant Daddy follows Phil, a quirky, down-on-his-luck gay man who never quite resolved the tension he holds with his distant and imperfect father. When Phil can’t bring himself to visit his father on his deathbed, the pressure and guilt sends Phil into crisis. Unable to cope, Phil throws himself into caring for an abandoned potted plant. As pressure from his family mounts, Phil’s ‘plant parenthood’ spirals into an absurd obsession.

The short is about focusing on plants as a distraction from the real problems in life. It’s a queer version of how straight couples can focus on children rather than fixing the issues in their relationship. At the heart of this comedy is a deeply relatable issue for queer audiences: the crippling pressure to forgive parents for not always being the allies we needed. Plant Daddy uses humour to explore the phenomenon of Millennials (and Gen Z) coping with their childhood traumas by raising ‘plant children’ with the level of care they wish they’d received as children.

We’re thrilled Plant Daddy has been selected for the QYS competition,” said Izad Etemadi (actor, co-writer, co-producer). “This is an exciting opportunity for all of us to collaborate on authentically queer work with queer performers and filmmakers. We can’t wait to share Phil’s misadventures in plant parenthood.”  Queer Your Stories 4 is sponsored by AFBSGrandé Camera Toronto and the Inside Out Toronto 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival.

ACTRA Toronto’s support of QYS encourages the telling of queer stories made by queer creators and performed by queer actors,” said ACTRA Toronto President David Gale. “I am so proud of how ACTRA Toronto’s relationship with Inside Out Toronto has taken root and blossomed.”

About outACTRAto:

The outACTRAto Committee is dedicated to raising awareness about queer performers, our stories and our place in the industry and society. We value diversity and equality, and we aim to be recognized, supported and valued as queer performers. We aspire to educate and inform our industry about realistic queer representation on screen as we seek a more accurate and balanced reflection of our rich and multifaceted community. We denounce and will work to end harassment and stereotyping of any kind. We will work to achieve true-to-life queer onscreen visibility of our culture and our stories and to realize change in our industry.

About ACTRA Toronto:

ACTRA Toronto is the largest organization within ACTRA, representing more than 15,000 of Canada’s 27,000 professional performers working in recorded media in Canada. An advocate for Canadian culture since 1943, ACTRA is a member-driven union that continues to secure rights and respect for the work of professional performers.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.