The Iris Prize – one of the “top 50 film festivals worth the entry fee” – is the BAFTA-qualifying Cardiff’s International LGBT+ short film prize. In 2018 it toured into the Exeter. And 2020 sees its first winner from the Netherlands. Short Calf Muscle, directed by Victoria Warmerdam, bagged the first prize of £30,000 prize enables Victoria to make a new short film in Wales, becoming the thirteenth Iris production.
Better, directed by Michael J Ferns, bagged Best British Award.
This year’s virtual festival attracted a UK wide audience to watching film screenings and talks online for free, which included the UK premiere on opening night of Lloyd Eyre-Morgan and Neil Ely’s S.A.M.
Short Calf Muscle
Philip Guttman, from the Iris Prize jury said: “Short Calf Muscle captures a universal sense of being misunderstood in a hilarious yet absurd comic tone, setting it apart in a class of its own.
“Piquant dialogue, accomplished storytelling and tongue in cheek acting are distilled into a potent black comedy, where Anders, a gay man, suddenly finds himself labelled to be a “gnome” by everyone around him, harkening to our own society that all too often misgenders or misidentifies others.
A world gone mad
“Filmmaker Victoria Warmerdam masterfully tackles themes of prejudice and societal authoritarianism, captured through an impeccable Stepford style lens which contrasts the loss of control in a world gone mad. Ms. Warmerdam reveals herself to be a singular, exciting and rising comedy director.”
The shortlisted finalists along with Short Calf Muscle also included Runner Up Victoria, as well as Boys and On My Way.
The winner of Best of British short films is Scottish-born Michael J Ferns for Better. The other films that made the final shortlist are Runner Up Queens, as well as The Passing andWings.
Quality and range
Tim Highsted, senior editor, Acquired Feature Films for Film4, who chaired the jury for Best British Short, said: “The quality and range of this year’s Best British Short film contenders has been excellent – so much so that the jury was spoiled in having to choose a winner.
“Michael J Fern’s short film Better was distinctive for its quietly controlled and beautifully orchestrated examination of gender as a young mother tries to cope with the bullying of her young son at school. Our other shortlisted titles, Queens, The Passing and Wings raised the bar in their unique portrayals and studies of LGBT+ lives and stories.”
Additionally, cementing the first of a three-year sponsorship deal with Film4, all 15 films in Best British programmes will be available for free streaming on All 4 from 11 October.
Best Performance in a Male Role in a Feature Film, sponsored by Attitude, was awarded to Leandro Faria Lelo from Dry Wind, directed by Daniel Nolasco and distributed by TLA Releasing.
Best Performance in a Female Role in a Feature Film,sponsored by Diva, was awarded to Lena Urzendowsy for Coccon. The winner was announced pop legend Heather Small.
The Best International Feature Film Award, sponsored by Bad Wolf, is won by Coccoon, directed by Leonie Krippendorff and is distributed in UK by Peccadillo Pictures.
The winner of the Youth Jury Award is Wings from UK director Jamie Weston, and the runner-up is Luca Padrini’s When In Rome (Paese Che Vai).
The four short-listed films, chosen from 35 nominees for the main Iris Prize, were Wings, My God I’m Queer, When In Rome (Paese Che Vai)andSnake, which had been specially programmed by a group of young people from Into Film and Pride Cymru and then voted for by young people from schools across Wales.
One of the additional innovations for this year is the introduction of the Co-op Audience Award, the natural next step in the strong relationship with the Iris Prize, started by Co-op Respect. This year Co-op shoppers will be encouraged to watch the 35 short films – and vote for their favourite.
Those who votes will be eligible to win a trip to attend the 2021 Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival in Cardiff, the prize will include train travel within the UK, hotel accommodation and a full VIP Pass for two people. Other prizes include luxury Co-op Hampers, just in time for Christmas! When can I vote? Voting for the Co-op Audience Award opens on Wednesday 7 October and closes on Saturday 31 October 2020.
‘The world’s largest short film prize’
Lord Glendonbrooksaid during his address: “The Iris Prize continues to be the world’s largest short film prize and I’m delighted that through The Michael Bishop Foundation we have been able to support the winners, to create new short films. These Iris Productions are wonderful opportunities for the film makers to be given the freedom to share our stories to a world that sometimes ignore us and sometimes hate us.”
Andrew Pierce, Iris Prize chair said: “Against the odds, filmmakers, sponsors and our UK audience have come together this week to celebrate our stories through film. As David Llewellyn mentioned during Irish Live!,‘We may be watching these films in separate rooms, but we’re still watching them together’.”
The main festival sponsors are: The Michael Bishop Foundation, Welsh Government, the BFI awarding funds from the National Lottery, FfilmCymru Wales, Film 4, University of South Wales, Co-op Respect, Bad Wolf, Gorilla Group, Peccadillo Pictures, Pinewood Studios, Attitude Magazine, Diva Magazine and The Ministry of Sound.
The festival also works in partnership with BAFTA Cymru, Pride Cymru and Stonewall Cymru.
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