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World’s largest LGBTI short film prize returns – but who will scoop the £30,000?

World’s largest LGBTI short film prize returns – but who will scoop the £30,000?

Where Are You Going, Habibi?

The Iris Prize, the world’s only LGBTI film festival dedicated to short films, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The 2016 event is set to run in Cardiff, Wales, from 12-16 October.

The festival screens dozens of movies from all over the world each year. An overall winner is chosen, with its creator winning a cash prize toward a future project.

The organizers have just released a list of this year’s screenings. Highlights include the feature debut from Grant Scicluna, who won the Iris Prize in 2012. Scicluna’s first full-length movie, Downriver, stars Kerry Fox (Holding The Man, Shallow Grave) and rising Australian star, Reef Ireland.

Many directors will be present at the festival to introduce their movies, including Canada’s Sarah Rotella, with her amusing exploration of friendship, Almost Adults, and Italy’s Giovanni Coda, talking about his 2015 movie, Bullied to Death.

Another Iris Prize alumni, Germany’s Tor Iben, will return to present new movie, Where Are you Going, Habibi? It’s described by Iris Prize curators as exploring the sensually powerful relationship that develops when ‘Ibrahim, a young Turkish man of German descent meets the man of his dreams, a blue-eyed wrestler Ali.’

Almost Adults
Almost Adults

Another film-maker set to return to the festival is Doug Langway, who will be presenting Bear City 3 (2016), the third comic outing for Tyler, Mama Bear Michael and friends. The screening will be accompanied by Wales’ first ever Bear Weekend and Welsh Bear of the Year contest with support from The Eagle Bar Cardiff.

Real Boy, from US director Shaleece Haas, is a moving documentary about one transgender teenager’s quest to live life as a boy – despite the concerns of his mother.

Check out the full list of presentations at irisprize.org.

The organizers have also announced that the chair of this year’s ten-person judging panel will be headed by director Cheryl Dunne, who made the popular lesbian-themed movie, The Watermelon Woman (itself celebrating its 20th anniversary).

Berwyn Rowlands, festival director, said in a statement that he was ‘thrilled’ to have Dunye chairing the jury for this year’s £30,000 prize ($39,560/€34,860).

‘We started discussing ideas when she spent the night in our home about two years ago. Cheryl had a film in competition at Iris 2015 and I remember saying it would be nice to get her back, but it would have to be for something important! And here we are celebrating 10 years of Iris with Cheryl Dunye chairing the jury, it doesn’t get more awesome than this.’

Also on the panel will be musician Rod Thomas, better known as Bright Light Bright Light.

‘As someone who grew up in South Wales feeling like I had to travel miles to see anything out of the ordinary, it’s amazing to see Iris bringing people to South Wales,’ said Thomas.

‘I’m looking forward to seeing work from people I may never have heard of, and seeing what brilliant independent creatives are making across the globe in one of the most friendly and brilliant festivals I’ve been to.’

A total of 35 short films will be competing for this year’s £30,000 prize, while 15 UK films will be competing for a separate Best of British prize of £20,000.

Gay Star News is a media partner of the Iris Prize.