This year, the Iris Prize celebrates their 10th anniversary and the milestone of becoming a BAFTA recognised A list festival. The international LGBTQ+ film festival takes place in Cardiff on the 12 -16th October, and will include feature films, shorts and even live music performances and screening introductions from some of the directors. We’re giving you a preview of some of our top picks; you can take a look at the full programme here, and book your tickets now here!
Just Say Yes (Lei disse sì) (2014)
Just Say Yes is a documentary by Italian director Maria Pecchioli following two women, Ingrid Lamminpää and Lorenza Soldani, who love each other. After a seven-year relationship, they bring together their friends and family from Italy – a country in which same-sex marriage is illegal – to marry in Sweden on the day of midsummer feast.
The heartwarming documentary shows that borders in the way of love have ways to be overcome, whilst simultaneously critiquing Italian prejudice and civil rights. The tone is very much both lighthearted and serious in this partly crowdfunded film; it undoes the arguments against same-sex marriage through conversations with children who cannot fathom the current Italian laws, the support of family and friends who know of this love story, and scenes of Lamminpää and Soldani showing that their love is just as pure and beautiful as any heterosexual marriage.
Director Maria Pecchioli will be introducing the screening, presented in association with Cardiff’s Italian Film Festival, on the 15th Oct at Cardiff Cineworld.
Nathan Adloff’s semi-autobiographical film tells the story of high school student Miles Walton in the year of dial-up internet, who wishes to escape his small farming town in Illinois for the city life of Chicago. Instant Messaging with strangers in his basement only feeds his need to leave his quieter life, wanting to have real and more exciting experiences in the wider world. With little money and his father’s passing keeping him from fulfilling his dream, he must rely on winning a college scholarship and join the girls volleyball team to do so.
Adloff succeeds in making Miles a detailed and authentic coming-of-age story in which the quest to leave home requires the support of its residents. Moreover, what is interesting about this film is that Miles’ homosexuality is never seen as a plot device. This is what many films about minority groups seek: a normalisation in cinema through representation in stories which we can all relate to.
Director Nathan Adloff will be present at the Iris Prize screening to introduce the film, screening on the 15th Oct at Cardiff Cineworld.
From the director of the iconic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert comes Horizon, a story about innocent 18 year old Jake who comes to the city to meet 28 year old AJ after months of talking on a gay social networking site. However, from here things become interesting as AJ is exposed as a love-rat, and so Jake decides to stay in the city with the support of drag queen and new friend Wilma Bumhurt.
This is a feature version of the world’s most watched gay webseries, The Horizon, set against the vibrant backdrop of the Sydney gay scene. Director Stephan Elliott takes us on a journey in which Wilma, AJ and Jake’s own aspirations and hopes become complicated due to their own mistakes. It is a world where ‘aspirations and sadness collide’, yet the characters find a way to turbulently get through it.
Following the screening on Friday night, 14th Oct at Cardiff Cineworld, will be the Iris Prize’s annual Pulse party at Pulse nightclub with an Australian theme.
Real Boy (2016)
In Shaleece Haas’ powerful documentary, Bennett Wallace puts it simply: ‘I just want to be loved by my family’. Real Boy follows 19 year old musician Bennett through his transition to become a man. Although family such as his mother struggle to come to terms with the transition, he still finds support in others – in particular his friend Joe Stevens, a popular transgender musician.
The film focuses on a son’s transition and a mother’s transformation in perspective. When approaching the subjects for the documentary, director Haas first anticipated that the film would instead focus on the friendship and support between Bennett and Joe, however upon meeting Bennett’s mother Suzy found that there was even more to this story. In an interview with Gay Times, she states, ‘I knew the film needed to focus on their relationship as well. I had faith that their love would eventually prevail over the pain, anger, and fear, and I wanted to stick around long enough to see it through.’
Musician Joe Stevens, featured in the film, will be introducing the screening on 13th Oct at Cardiff Cineworld, as well as performing an intimate acoustic set after the Q+A. The screening is supported by QFN.