Film Iris

Iris Prize Festival 2013

Posted on: 23 Aug 2013 by Philip Wyn Jones

Philip Wyn Jones picks out some hightlights from the selected short films up for this year's Iris Prize.

Very soon it’ll be time for our annual date with Iris. I’ve lost count of the number of shorts we watched during two solid weeks of viewing here in Cardiff as members of the Pre-selection Jury. As always it was an enjoyable experience and I’m going to list just eight of my favourites as a foretaste of the delights to come.

20MALEGAYNYC (Blake Pruitt, USA - Shorts Programme 6) Here’s an interesting point. Did you know that lots of gays hate… gays, or at least what they perceive to be gay stereotypes; men who are muscle-bound or effeminate or empty-headed or all three! This ‘fact’ emerges from Pruitt’s thoughtful and well-presented talking-heads documentary in which ten men talk freely and frankly about their sexuality.

Bumpy Night (Julie Kreuzer, Germany - Shorts Programme 2). Do actors stop acting when they exit the stage? In this case the answer is no. Jonas, after a successful performance as Hamlet, is the centre of attraction at a private party. His former boyfriend is there. Can Jonas maintain a veneer of cool nonchalance. The title suggests otherwise.

The Language of Love (Laura Scrivano, Australia - Shorts Programme 6, pictured). Here’s a thrilling example of youthful talent. 17 year old Kim Ho from Sydney wrote a touching monologue giving a teenager’s view of life’s romantic problems. In this elegantly made film he takes the leading role as a student in a French exam. Stephen Fry saw this film and declared it ‘amazing’. 

Crabs in the Sand (Tom Garber, Israel - Shorts Programme 4). This film may well become a festival talking point. Young Noam, his sister and other friends are playing on the beach. They are joined by another playmate. He, Michael, is thirty years old but childlike. Noam suggests a game of blind man’s buff and blindfolds Michael. What happens then? The enigmatic ending left me with a sense of unease.

For Dorian (Rodrigo Barriuso, Canada - Shorts Programme 5). I love films with an emotional punch and this is a superb example. Dorian is a teenager with Down’s syndrome. He has a wonderful relationship with his caring father. He also has a developing friendship with another lad. His father is curious and anxious. Can he let go and allow Dorian to lead his own life?

A Last Farewell (Casper Andreas, Sweden - Shorts Programme 4). During our Q&A in the 2011 Iris Prize Festival, Swedish-born Casper was keen to point out that that he considers himself to be an American. This did not prevent his wishing to make a Swedish film and here it is. Using the cream of Swedish talent on both sides of the camera he has made this sensitive portrait of an author facing two emotional crises at the same time; the death of his lover and his fractured relationship with his daughter.

My Mother (Jay Bedwani, UK - Shorts Programme 5). Cardiff-based Bedwani is a well-known documentary photographer and researcher with a particular interest in immigration. This touching film takes us into strange territory. Gustavo‘s best friend was his late mother. He misses her terribly. As drag artist Donna in San Francisco he becomes a different personality. Is he trying to re-create, or even become, his mother?

Shower (Christian Norvalls, Norway - Shorts Programme 4). Curiosity can be dangerous. At a gym a man is enjoying a solitary shower, but what is that noise? He can’t resist the urge to find out. What he discovers at first repels him but then proves to be thrilling. Then there is an interruption and the atmosphere changes completely.

In my next blog I’ll take a look at this year’s Iris feature films.

Philip Wyn Jones. Editor and reviewer. philip@philipwyn.wanadoo.co.uk

The full Iris Prize programme is now live. For full details and to book your tickets go to www.irisprize.org

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