Welsh Festival Brings Together Film Lovers

An event growing year by year for film lovers happens around every October in Wales: The Iris Prize Festival. Founded in 2007 by the Festivals company, the event brings film makers from all over the world to present their LGBT themed films over the course of five days (the last being the award ceremony). Iris opens space for people interested in cinema to get tips and to even to try and make their own films – this year two attendees had the opportunity to show films they have made. Simon Savory directed the excellent budget indie film Bruno & Arlene Go to Vegas about a woman who becomes friends with an intersex person. The film has also the wonderful guest appearance of Cassandra Peterson (Elvira Mistress of the Dark) as the narrator. Another attendee, Jay Bedwani, took home the Iris UK Best Short Film award for My Mother – a very compelling story about family ties.

Some of the most anticipated films were this year's uplifting Best Feature Film: Eytan Fox's Cupcakes – a story about a group of friends in Tel Aviv who end up in “Eurosong” (a reference to Eurovision) representing Israel. Darren Stein's G.B.F. was another big name at the festival - a funny film about the commodification of gay men as accessories with many references to mean girls and with Megan Mullally (Will and Grace) who completely steals the show.

This year's international attractions included Blake Pruitt, director of 20MALEGAYNYC about what it means to be a 20 year old gay male in New York,  Dustin Shroff and Michael Ray Solis for Deflated – a compelling story about gender expectations in society, and many others. The winner of this year's Iris Prize was Gorilla by the Australian Tim Marshall – a very artistic and well developed film about a group of travelers. The event has a film for everyone and attendees are encouraged to approach film makers with after parties and to make contacts, making it a very personal experience.

Iris also had public interviews with the Welsh Government explaining about funding for film makers and Cardiff as a creative city and interviews with industry professionals about crowd-sourcing. The exciting awards ceremony brought back Amy Lamé as host and the chance to see the winning films again one last time. Iris also had a day dedicated to young people where they could debate with experts and workshops. They could also be part of the festival and some were even chosen to come up with their own best film for this year. All in all, Iris is a festival not exclusive to the LGBT public, but for all film lovers. There is really no reason why Iris shouldn't keep growing with its affordable tickets and personal approach coming from all the volunteers giving us attendees such an amazing time every year. 

More information and available at: http://www.irisprize.org/

Words by Andy Love

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