Balcony directed by filmmaker Toby Fell-Holden has been announced winner of the Iris Prize 2016, Cardiff’s International LGBT Short Film Prize, supported by The Michael Bishop Foundation. This is the first time in its 10 years of existence that a UK filmmaker has won. The £30,000 prize will allow Toby to make a new short film in Wales, becoming the ninth Iris production. The film was part of Film London’s ‘London Calling Plus’ scheme.
Cheryl Dunye, the Chair of the jury said, “The conversations among the jury have been about what makes a film aesthetically and technically accomplished whilst being queer at the same time. We have looked at the creative decisions a director makes in pre-production, casting, cinematographically, and in editing”.
Of Balcony, she said, “We felt that the director crafted a powerful film where not a single moment of its 17 minutes was wasted. The lead performance by Charlotte Beaumont was particularly outstanding as she took us on an internal transformation that left us speechless”.
“The film explored a myriad of social justice issues not only relevant to LGBT filmmaking but also with those that intersect with race, class, and gender issues in both the UK and the world today”.
Special commendations also go to: Thanks for Dancing (Takk For Turen) directed by Henrik Martin Duhlsbakken from Norway.
“The jury admired the chemistry between the two leads, the dynamic performance of the estranged daughter and its refreshing acknowledgement of homophobia in sports”.
Sunday Lunch (Le Repas Dominical) directed by Céline Devaux from France.
“A witty animation where sound design, humour and a unique brand of story-telling drove home the universal feelings that many of us in the LGBTQ communities have felt with both our birth families and sometimes the families we call our own”.
Commenting on this year’s festival, Director Berwyn Rowlands said, “It has been an amazing time, and this year has proven to be the tipping point in the festival’s growth and awareness in its landmark tenth anniversary year, with a UK film winning the prize for the very first time against such strong international competition. What’s incredible about Balcony’s success is that two independent juries reached the same conclusion. We’ve waited ten years for this to happen and I’m thrilled that British talent has been recognised in this year when BAFTA officially acknowledged the Iris Prize for award eligibility”.
He added, “We’ve also seen many memorable moments, one of the highlights being Michael Sheen paying an unexpected visit to wish Iris a happy birthday”.
The Award was presented by Lord Glendonbrook, who also announced that the Michael Bishop Foundation’s sponsorship and support of the festival would increase from £35,000 to £50,000. This will enable the festival to continue to grow and also safeguards the future of the Iris Prize itself.
The sold-out Iris Award Ceremony was hosted by Capital FM’s Matt Lissack at Cineworld, Cardiff.
The other winners are: Best British Award, sponsored by Pinewood Studios
Balcony directed by Toby Fell-Holden was announced as Best British Short.
Frances Hendron, Chair of Best British award, said, “We watched 15 remarkable shorts. We encountered tales of beauty, loss, pain and joy.
“The winning film is Balcony. This is an assured confident film raising important themes and in particular, its confident shocking endings. The performance of Charlotte Beaumont as Tina is outstanding”.
Also highly commended were:
Oh-Be-Joyful directed by Susan Jacobson
“We commend this for its fine script, terrific performances, and its sheer joy”.
Souls directed by Daniel Gage
“This is a tale of loss and love, created and sustained for eight minutes”
The Carer directed by Christine Parker
“This is a film that is unexpectedly uplifting, demonstrating the kindness of the human spirit (and how that can have an important impact and consequence)”
The Best British Award was presented by David Johnston from Pinewood Studios Group, who sponsor the £20,000 award.
Accepting both prizes, director Toby Fell-Holden said, “We are thrilled and humbled to have been awarded both the Iris Prize and Best British Award. The film was a huge labour of love that tackled issues of perception around race and sexual identity”.
“It is a big honour to have Iris recognise the film”, he continued, “particularly given the current political climate around immigration and what it means to be ‘other’. Our deepest thanks goes out to the jury of the awards”.
Best Feature Award (£1,000), sponsored by Martin Briggs
Real Boy directed by Shaleece Haas is the winner of the Iris Prize Best Feature Award. The jury said, “The film that took the jurors on a journey filled with a real emotion was Real Boy”.
Also highly commended were presented to Bullied To Death directed by Giovanni Coda from Italy.
Best Performance Award, sponsored by Gay Star News
The performance awards sponsored by Gay Star News were presented to Tom Green for his role as Anthony and Kerry Fox who played Paige Levy, both performances from Australian film, Downriver, directed by Grant Scicluna, Iris Prize winner from 2012.
Iris Prize Youth Award, sponsored by Cardiff University
Finally, the Iris Prize Youth Award was presented to Sign directed by Andrew Keenan-Bolger from the US. Members of Pride Cymru Youth Council, who selected the films to be screened said, "Sign was a really powerful film, with both music and performances getting an emotional story across without the need for words”.
Eleven films considered age appropriate were offered to Pride Cymru Youth Council members who then reduced the number of films offered to voters to 5 films. During the Education Day on Wednesday, pupils aged from 12-18 from 5 schools each cast their votes for 1st & 2nd. On Saturday, young attendees of Pride Cymru Youth Conference cast their votes in the same way as above, with their combined decisions leading to the winner. The jury highly commended Queen’s Mile, directed by Martin Delaney.
Festival guests included directors Nathan Adloff (Miles, USA) and Sarah Rotella (Almost Adults, US); previous Iris award winners Till Kleinert and Magnus Mork. International Jury included last year’s Iris Prize winner Arkasha Stevenson from US and international musician Rod Thomas (Bright Light Bright Light), Sarah Rotella, (director, Almost Adults), Andrew Murphy (director of Toronto’s InsideOut LGBT Film Festival), and Michael Gamilla from Rochester’s Image Out Festival).
The post-award reception was held at the Park Inn Hotel, Cardiff.
The main festival sponsors are: The Michael Bishop Foundation, Welsh Government, BFI, Ffilm Cymru Wales, Pinewood Studios Group, Cardiff University, Gorilla Group, Cineworld, Chapter, Gay Star News, Pride Cymru, British Council Wales, Orchard.