Iris Prize LGBTQ Film Festival unveils full programme for 2021
The 2021 edition of the Iris Prize LGBTQ film festival will be presented in Cardiff in October, and organisers have unveiled the full programme for the event.
Among the features films are UK premieres of new films from Bruce LaBruce and Todd Stephens along with critically acclaimed Firebird and Rebel Dykes. There are also a wide range of talks, panel discussions and a special awards ceremony. Plus, the festival will feature live music from HYYTS, the synth pop band from Glasgow who have also provided music for the festival trailers.
As well as in-person screenings in Cardiff, the festival will also offer on-line screenings.
“This year’s programme offers those who are ready to re-connect and meet likeminded people to watch amazing films in person a lot of choice…” says the festival’s Berwyn Rowlands. “Our venues, including our new city centre home Premiere Cinemas are ready to put on a show. And although we are still living in a different world to when we last came together in 2019 – there will be much which is familiar, and fingers crossed a few new surprises. However, we are mindful that for some of our audience watching our 15th edition on-line works best. And looking at the numbers from last year, I’m sure that presenting the festival in person and on-line will become the norm.”
Iris Prize – the 2021 festival
Celebrating its 15th edition, the Cardiff-based festival will take place from 5-10 October 2021.
The festival present nine awards:
- Iris Prize
- Iris Prize Best British Short
- Iris Prize Best Feature
- Best Performance in a Female Role
- Best Performance in a Male Role
- Youth Jury Award
- Community Award
- Education Award
- Micro Short Award
We caught up with Berwyn Rowlands, Festival Director, for a behind-the-scenes look at the Iris Prize.
Why are LGBTQ film festivals like Iris important?
Representation is the key reason why LGBTQ film festivals continue to be important. It’s very difficult to challenge the fact that we’re seeing more representation of our communities in mainstream media - especially television where every soap must have a quota of gay characters - but this is not yet true of the film industry. Do we need more LGBTQ characters in movies, yes! Do we need more diversity within the movies, yes! This is where film festivals fit in. We’re a great place for the communities we represent to see themselves on a big screen.
Festivals are also important because we can also make a stand and be political with a small “p”. Taking for granted our liberties would be complacency on a grand scale - things change in the world very quickly. As LGBTQ communities, we need to be able to talk and listen to each other. Social media is a powerful tool for communication, but it can funnel discussion into an echo chamber, where it’s difficult to listen and understand each other. Festivals like Iris continue to have a role as we offer people a chance to watch, talk, and listen in a safe environment.
How is the festival evolving to reflect the diversity of the LGBTQ community and experience?
When we launched in 2006, the Iris Prize was focused on stories about sexuality – primarily gay and lesbian, bisexuality was invisible or just ignored. The main change since those early days has been the increase in trans visibility, which culminated in a name change in 2013 when we added “T” to “LGB”.
Where do short films fit in the creative development of LGBTQ filmmakers?
I’ve always enjoyed watching short films and get quite angry when some just see them as a calling card on a journey to make a feature film. In the same way that some writers enjoy writing short stories, we have film makers who enjoy the short film form – a place to be experimental and challenge some of the norms of story-telling.
You’ll find more originality at Iris than in many a mainstream festival, because of the freedom that is afforded to short film makers. The digital revolution has also made it easier to create content – but that doesn’t make everybody a film maker!