Review: Iris Prize Festival - Day #1 @ Cardiff Cineworld
Another welcome return to the Iris Prize Festival in our fair city. I could go on about how it has already been a year since the last one (where I popped my Iris cheery, if you will) but seeing how much there is to see and do, I simply don't have the time.
With a much larger programme this year, we are faced with 16 features and a set of 10 programmes of short films. It's a lot to take in and sadly we can't see it all (some screenings overlap). Berwyn Rowlands, festival director of this smashing festival, has said "this could be the breakthrough year for Iris". Already in its eighth year, a series of breakthroughs have occurred over the last few years. It still holds up as a brilliant idea to have an LGBT+ film festival in the Welsh capital.
Seeing last year's winning short film, Gorilla, again (by Australian film-maker, Tim Marshall) was a delight. Even after a third viewing, it still holds up. In my review of last year, I dubbed it a classic of the "women as threat" canon. Maybe now I can see that the German backpacker, with the unmistakable face, wasn't really being that unusual at all. Rather, she was living her life the best way she could think of: through the medium of dance. She certainly rustles the jimmies of these two Australian lads on their camping trip. Being one of the most enjoyable short films at Iris last year, I endeavour to speak to Tim - who is here for the festival as a Jury member - and have a good natter over film and more.
The opening feature posed a question: what if James Bond was gay? Jayson Bend: Queen and Country does its best to show us. This unremarkable film is not funny, only ever using classic Bond humour and subverting it into this inferior, cringe-worthy queer vein. With a shoe-string budget, this was poorly made and had me waving my hands in the air post-screening to show my displeasure with it. The acting, whether deliberate or not, was terribly wooden. The delivery of some of the lines had me frowning in disbelief. Granted, it ticked all the boxes for a gay spoof, but its execution still makes me think the guys at RiffTrax should take a look. Austin Powers fans (like me) die hard...
Maybe I'm being a little harsh since my own short film did not get into the festival. So, a shameless plug* is on its way!
I'm looking forward to a stack of other features and shorts to get through over the next few days.
Here's to it! x
Gorilla Rating: 9/10
Jason Bend: Queen and Country Rating: 2/10
*James' latest film, For Max: The Love of a Contortionist, is on YouTube now (contains some mild language and adult themes).
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