By David Llewellyn
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5th November 2015

Iris in Autumn

The Iris Blogger's tips on how you can beat the autumn blues and still get your post-Iris fix.

Can it be that almost a month has passed since this year’s Iris Prize Festival? Honestly… the last few weeks have gone by in a bit of a blur, and that’s not because of all the Jagerbombs that were consumed during this year’s festival. I’m blaming the clocks going back. Or was it forward?

See what I mean?

Now, I don’t know about you, but while the pleasure of sitting in a darkened room watching films for four days is something I look forward to every year, each Iris is always followed by a few weeks in which I can barely even walk past a cinema, let alone enter one. I’m all filmed out. But once that has passed, another feeling kicks in. A kind of post-Iris withdrawal.

A typical, post-Amazon British high street*.
A typical, post-Amazon British high street*.

Thanks to distributors such as our friends at Peccadillo and TLS, it’s relatively easy to get hold of the films you’ve seen and loved during Iris, even the shorts, but sometimes, when you can’t wait for that DVD or Blu-Ray to arrive and can’t face the journey to whichever high street store is still spluttering along in an age of online shopping, you need a quicker fix.

Perhaps the biggest revolution in how we watch films since the VHS and Betamax wars of the early ’80s, home streaming means it’s easier than ever to access independent LGBT cinema. Now, I’m not here to endorse any one provider over another (partly because none of them would bribe me, the scoundrels), but as a subscriber to both Netflix UK and the BFI’s new BFI Player+, I can recommend a few titles that are available on both. (Note: These are subject to change, as films are removed and added at the providers’ discretion.)

Murray Bartlett in August (dir. Eldar Rapaport)
Murray Bartlett in August

Of the two, Netflix UK is certainly the more user-friendly (that may be because they’ve been doing this for a while). It has a fairly broad selection of LGBT films, including a few Iris feature film alumni. Darren Stein’s funny and acerbic GBF is a particular favourite, riffing on Mean Girls and with some amazing turns from its young cast. Eldar Rapaport’s gorgeous, understated drama August, will appeal to fans of Weekend and Looking, and features the latter’s star Murray Bartlett in its lead role.

Elsewhere, you’ll find Xavier Villaverde’s film Sex of Angels (El Sexo de los Ángeles) , which won the 2012 Iris Prize for Best Feature, but whose title Netflix have confusingly translated as “Angels of Sex”, which just sounds like a pornographic biker gang.

BFI Player+ has a whole programme of features and shorts to tie in with their Flare festival (formerly the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival), including Matthew Mishory’s amazing Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean and Daniel Ribeiro’s beautiful The Way He Looks (aka Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho), adapted from his own Iris-winning short, I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone.

James Preston in Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean
James Preston in Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean

The BFI’s collection is fairly labyrinthine, so I’ve only skimmed the surface so far, but I’ve also spotted a few Iris-related shorts in there, including Casper Andreas’s very touching A Last Farewell, shortlisted in 2013, and Tim Marshall’s Followers, the film he made after winning the Iris Prize that same year.

I’m aware that my selection is very gay-man-centric, and limited to just these two providers. If you have recommendations for any further films that are available to stream, or indeed any other (legal!) streaming services, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

(* Pic taken from the film 28 Weeks Later. Not a documentary about Britain’s retail habits.)

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