Active Engagement

October sees the return of the Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival. For 15 years now, the festival has championed LGBT+ short films and this year is no exception. Physical screenings will take place for the first time at Premiere Cinemas Cardiff, close to the heart of the city’s pulsating LGBT+ nightlife. After last year’s virtual event, the films will also be available online for those who can’t make it to the Cardiff area.

Impressively, a shortlist of 35 international filmmakers will compete for the £30,000 Iris Prize. Coming from 19 countries, including Iran, Brazil and South Korea, it truly is a global event. 15 British directors will also compete for the Best British Short Film prize. This year’s nominees reflect a 50/50 divide of male and female filmmakers representing full diversity and gender, including trans and non-binary individuals, actively engaging across the LGBT+ community.

Although the focus is short films, feature-length movies are also being showcased. Among them will be the UK premiere of Swan Song by director Todd Stephens (2006’s Another Gay Movie). The film stars the mighty Udo Kier as a retried hairdresser who escapes his nursing home to style a dead woman’s hair before her funeral. Also featuring the legendary Linda Evans from Dynasty, it previously won the audience award at the Monte Carlo Comedy Film Festival.

Also premiering before its UK release next year is iconic filmmaker Bruce LaBruce’s Saint-Narcisse, which stars Canadian actor Felix Antoine-Duval as identical twins, separated at birth. Then there is Firebird – a film shot in Estonia and starring British actor Tom Prior. Based on a true story, it’s a touching male love story set, remarkably, during the later years of the Cold War. Prior plays Sergey, a troubled young private who forges an intense but dangerous bond with Roman, played by Oleg Zagorodnii, a pilot in the Soviet Air Force.

Talks and panel discussions will also take place. Among them, rising Glasgow synth pop band HYYTS will join Francis Brown from New Sound Wales to discuss music and film, and their feelings towards the music video form. The band’s unique sound will likely be heard wherever you go; two of their tracks have been used to accompany the festival’s 2021 montage of competing short films. And on Thursday 7 October, festivalgoers can be treated to a live performance of their music at Iris Club, Queens Arcade.

The Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival runs from 5-10 October. Click here for more details.

Iris Prize are part of ASFF’s 2021 Guest Programmes. Find out more here.

James Mottram

Stills: 1. Firebird 2. Love Spells and All That 3. Acrimonious.