QUEEN TUT loses previously confirmed Toronto church location due to film’s LGBTQ+ content

On August 8, 2022, the cast and crew of Queen Tut, a groundbreaking tale of queer immigration, directed by rising Egyptian-Canadian filmmaker Reem Morsi (Virgins!), starring Ryan Ali (The Hummingbird Project, SkyMed ) in the titular role alongside SAG Award-nominated Alexandra Billings (Transparent) and Thom Allison (Pinecone & Pony, Coroner, Killjoys), have moved to their second location for the day, the Toronto Metamorphosis Church at 40 Donlands Ave, which was to replace an Egyptian Coptic Church.

Although Production and Locations practices due diligence in terms of notifying, authorizing and securing the venue, the production was asked to leave when a church staff member inquired about the LGBTQ+ content of the story of Queen Tut.

“The church staff had facilitated clearances and clearances well in advance and were fully aware of the content and story of our film. All parties involved were in agreement and the church opened its doors. to our cast and crew, until another part of the church – which we were not told by church staff and with whom we had not communicated prior to the day – was in disagreement with the film’s LGBTQ+ content,” Queen Tut’s production manager Mary Assenza said.

Eastminster United Church, Toronto, at 310 Danforth Avenue, stepped up and made themselves available for the production. Filming at the new location wrapped on Wednesday, August 31.

“It is heartbreaking to know that despite so much change and progress across Toronto, there are still corners where intolerance towards our community leads to unequal treatment. We are so grateful to work with such an inclusive church as Eastminster! ” said Shant Joshi and Lindsay Blair Goeldner.

Principal photography runs from August 8 to September 30, 2022 on the independent feature.

Queen Tut is produced by Shant Joshi (Framing Agnes) and Lindsay Blair Goeldner (I Like Movies) of Fae Pictures with Lauren Saarimaki (Only Light will Touch Us, Motherly, For the Sake of Vicious) as associate producer and Aeschylus Poulos (Brother, Sleeping Giant) and Sonya Di Rienzo (brother) from Hawkeye Pictures and executive produced by Alexandra Billings.

Filming also took place in Toronto at Mandy’s on the Danforth, THE VILLAGE on Church Street, Danforth and East Chinatown.

Queen Tut is based on a screenplay by Abdul Malik (Peace by Chocolate, Transplant), Kaveh Mohebbi (The Lake, The Communist’s Daughter, That’s My DJ) and Bryan Mark.

The story follows Nabil (Ali), a shy Egyptian teenager who finds a new life in Toronto after the death of his seamstress mother in Cairo. He befriends a trans mother (Billings), who inspires him to resurrect his mother’s soul within himself by sewing and donning the magnum opus dress she never finished.

Cinematography by Issa Shah (EZRA, Grae: Permanent Manic), production design by Michael McShane (Escape the Field, Dragon’s Den) costumes by Leeland Mitchell (The Fabulous Show with Fay and Fluffy), editing by Ben Allan (Bigfoot and the Burtons), and choreography by Hollywood Jade (Canada’s Drag Race, Priyanka: Bitch I’m Busy, Cake and Queen of the North, Revenge of the Black Best Friend).

The film is financed and produced by Fae Pictures in association with Crave and Hawkeye Pictures with the participation of Telefilm Canada and Ontario Créatif in partnership with York University Motion Media Studio at Cinespace Studios.

Queen Tut has been selected for the Canadian Creative Accelerator in Los Angeles, the Ontario Creates International Financing Forum, the UPSIDE DOWN Film Finance Forum and Whistler Power Pitch.

Worldwide rights remain available. The film will premiere on Crave in early 2024.

Reem Morsi is an Egyptian/Canadian writer/director/producer based in Toronto. She worked as a professional diver and then as a human rights officer at the United Nations and other international organizations for a decade before becoming a filmmaker. Reem’s feature debut was the thriller/drama, The Last Mark (TIFF Industry Selects 2021). Reem also directed two episodes of Virgins! a new CBC Gem series, including the series finale. Reem’s shorts have screened at TIFF, Cannes Short Film Corner, Yorkton, BBC and Cinesud.

Alexandra Billings is an actress, singer, author, teacher and activist. Alex starred as “Madame Morrible” in the Broadway production of WICKED, the first trans actor to portray the role. Previously, she performed on Broadway in the Manhattan Theater Club’s production of THE NAP at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater.

Ben Bratley of the NY Times called her performance “…a sensational Broadway debut…” and “…a marvel of glamorous menace”. Alex stars in the upcoming Amazon TV series The Peripheral. She starred in the award-winning TV series Transparent, had recurring roles on The Conners, Never Have I Ever and Goliath, and roles on How to Get Away with Murder, Grey’s Anatomy, ER, among others.

Ms. Billings was honored to receive the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Visibility Award. She is the recipient of five After Dark Awards and a Joseph Jefferson Award. In 2016, she moderated a panel during Transgender Awareness Month at the White House (Obama); she has won the TPA Award, the Rainbow Spirit Award and was inducted into the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in Chicago.

His autobiographical memoir This Time for Me is published by Amazon Books. Alex obtained his master’s degree at CSULB. She is currently an associate professor of theater at USC. She is a Viewpoints associate at the Steppenwolf Theatre.

Based in Los Angeles and Toronto, FAE PICTURES is an award-winning media production company whose mission is to decolonize Hollywood by creating cinematic content for, by and about queer, trans and BIPOC people.

Our latest film, Framing Agnes, premiered at Sundance and won the NEXT Audience Award and NEXT Innovator Award, and we recently received the illustrious TEDDY Award (informally known as the Queer Oscar) at the Berlinale for the International Dawn Chorus Day.

Our team’s work in film and television has premiered at festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, Tribeca, Hot Docs, Busan, BFI London, Outfest, NewFest, Inside Out, Black Star and Bentonville, has won several nominations at the Canadian Screen Awards. , and has seen theatrical releases and digital distribution on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Dekkoo, YouTube and CBC Gem, in Canada, the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and the whole world.

Charles K. Eckert