During my time at the Iris Prize Festival, I was lucky enough to be able to see a few of the competition winners, which includes ‘Best British Short’, and ‘Best International Short’, to name a few.
Set against the backdrop of Ireland’s gloomy skies, and steeped in the uncertainty of teenage life, ‘Lily’ is a brief, devastating look at the internal struggle, and, often, the violent, outward intolerance that comes with the realisation of one’s sexuality. At times, ‘Lily’ is difficult to watch, as fleeting moments of discovery are ruptured by sudden outbursts of rejection and hatred. Where aggressive homophobia rears its ugly head, however, hope is ignited. We, along with ‘Lily’ herself, our protagonist, are told that, even in the face of bigotry, we must embrace our true selves and find a way to deal with all that is bestowed upon us. While it is necessary to face the cruel reality of prejudice, it is also necessary to remind others that it is still worth maintaining some faith in this world, even when we are given every reason not to. Hope, after all, is what keeps us going in the bleakest of situations, and it is this hope that ‘Lily’ leaves us with, to cherish as we reckon with the ugliest sides of humanity.