The 11th Iris Prize Festival kicked off in style at Cineworld Cardiff yesterday, with its annual Education Day and an opening night extravaganza to remember.
The Opening Night began with a red carpet arrival at Cineworld, Cardiff, and a screening of three short films. In his opening address, Iris Festival Director Berwyn Rowlands, said:
“The world – our world – can sometimes feel like a very hostile place, and sometimes we forget about the smaller stories, those moments that collectively paint a bigger picture. Iris has always been about making the invisible visible. Iris is about sharing stories. Stories about falling in and out of love, stories about loss and grief, stories about the everyday that shine a light on our lives, our hopes, our dreams.”
The three films chosen to open Iris 2017 were:
- Xavier, directed by Giovanni Coda; an intensely moving film about Xavier Jugelé, the French police officer shot and killed in a terror attack on the Champs-Elysees in April of this year, shown in conjunction with the Italian Film Festival Cardiff.
- Bachelor, 38, directed by Angela Clarke. An intimate portrait of Bryan Bale, who left Cardiff for London as a young man in the early 1960s. In the film he talks about gay life before and after the partial-decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967.
- Côr Blimey follows the South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus as they travel down to the Cornwall to take part in the Cornwall International Male Choral Festival.
The Opening Night Gala was presented by Heno’s Angharad Mair, who interviewed some of those involved in the films, alongside the chairs of the juries for the Iris Prize and Best British categories.
International Jury chair Brian Robinson said: “We are looking for something new, stories we haven’t seen before. The most important thing for me is imagination. Even with the smallest of budgets, imagination makes all the difference, because imagination costs nothing.”
Best British Jury chair Katie White added: “If you’ve made it to Iris, you’ve already won. The standard of competition is always so high, these films really are the best of the best.”
Students from schools across Wales attended Iris’s Education Day to watch some of the films competing at this year’s and share films that they have made through the Iris Prize outreach programme. They also took part in workshops discussing LGBT+ issues, filmmaking and storytelling.
Education Day co-ordinator Mark Williams said: “This year’s education day has been our biggest and best event. It’s had a record turnout with students from as far away as Newcastle Emlyn coming to Cardiff to meet some of the visiting filmmakers and watch some amazing films.”
The Iris Prize Festival 2017 in numbers:
- 9 programmes of short films competing for the Iris Prize
- 3 programmes of shorts competing for the Iris Prize Best British
- 3 programmes of shorts on Super Saturday when we discover the finalists
- 10 new feature films with many screening twice
- 6 question and answer sessions with visiting feature film directors
- 4 amazing talks with topics covering “Women and Film”, “Dementia and Us”
- 1 Producers Forum
- 1 opening night celebration and post screening party
- 1 amazing Iris Carnival an all-day extravaganza combining, food, film and music with Heather Small
The main festival sponsors are: The Michael Bishop Foundation, Welsh Government, BFI, Ffilm Cymru Wales, Pinewood Studios Group, Cardiff University, Cardiff BID, Gorilla Group, Co-op Respect and Cineworld. The festival also works in partnership with BAFTA Cymru and Pride Cymru.