Three different venues, two major events (including a visit from over 100+ schoolchildren), seven screenings, one talk, a lunch and a party. What could possibly go wrong? Er... nothing as it turns out. But do read on.
Day four got off to a drizzly start, as Cardiff's weather did what it usually does, and performed an abrupt 180° turn. From glorious sunshine to brooding clouds, heavy rain and gale force winds. In other words, the perfect day to spend hunkered down in a darkened room watching movies.
The Education Day - in which school students from in and around Cardiff take part in workshops with film professionals - got off to a surprisingly smooth start (you try herding 100+ teenagers into a cinema), as did the Producers Forum, which this year took place in the University of South Wales' splendidly Michael Mann-esque Atrium building.
Meanwhile, filmmakers and film fans saw the second batch of British shorts, which looked at queer life in modern Britain. There were some thorny, challenging films in this programme, but the Iris Blogger's personal favourites were Crashing Waves (already discussed in an earlier post) and Abena Taylor-Smith's Ladies Day.
Programme 7 of the international shorts had the title Lost and Found, with three powerful films that explored some of the challenges of modern life for LGBT+ people. It was an especially strong programme, but the Blogger's money, How I Got to the Moon by Subway was the stand-out, and the one which left more than one audience member looking very dewy-eyed after the credits had rolled.
After lunch there was a talk on how filmmakers can or should go about telling the story of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, and the ongoing story of HIV, its treatment and its transformation from a terminal to a chronic condition. This was chaired by veteran advocate and campaigner Lisa Power, with academic Dr Emily Garside, artist Joe Cotgrave, and Peccadillo founder Tom Abell bringing their own experiences and expertise to what was an engaging and thought-provoking discussion.
This panel tied in with the UK premiere of 1985, Yen Tan's drama set in the winter of that year, as a young man returns to his family home for Christmas, knowing it'll almost certainly be his last. The cast includes Cory Michael Smith (Gotham, Carol), Michael Chiklis (The Shield) and an absolutely amazing Virginia Madsen (Sideways), so I can only hope it picks up a UK distributor sometime soon, because this is an excellent film that deserves to be seen by as big an audience as possible.
The final programme of British shorts gave us four documentaries looking back at recent queer history, with Bachelor, 38 making a second appearance (it's also nominated for the Iris Prize). Beyond - There's always a black issue, dear is the one that's stayed with this blogger, delving into the personal experiences of the black British LGBT+ community in the 1970s and '80s with bags of charm.
There were two more UK premieres that evening, with the larger-than-life and camp-as-Christmas film Fairytale (Favola) from Italy, and the controversial and sizzlingly sultry Cola de mono from Chile. Later, Iris-goers made their way over to Cardiff venue Mary's for the Friday night party, but the Iris blogger was bushed, and had to call it a night.
While others partied (and who-knows-whated) the night away, he was curled up in his pyjamas watching Graham Norton and wondering what the hell BTS might be. (That's because you're 40 - Ed.)
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The Iris Prize is supported by The Michael Bishop Foundation