LUMI at Iris Prize Film Festival 2023

Ever wondered what it's like to attend one of the best LGBTQ+ film festivals in the world? LUMI Programmer Katherine Harris shares her experience of attending the 2023 Iris Prize LGBTQ+ Festival.
As a LUMI programmer, I had the chance to find out when I travelled to Cardiff to join the 17th edition of the Iris Prize Festival. The festival showcases the best in queer filmmaking from around the world, with a massive selection of films, talks and this year the opportunity to see Russell T Davies, legendary writer and producer who revived Doctor Who and created some of the most iconic LGBTQ+ shows.
Iris was founded in 2007 by Berwyn Rowlands, who wanted to create a platform for LGBTQ+ stories and voices. Since then, it has grown to become one of the most respected LGBTQ+ film events and has attracted industry professionals, and audiences (like me) from across the globe. It’s so important as it provides a platform for films that show the richness and the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community. It challenges stereotypes and prejudices while fostering a sense of empowerment and pride among both LGBTQ+ people and allies.
As a first-time festival goer, I was nervous and excited to attend Iris. I had never travelled to Wales before, let alone to a major international film event. I was equipped with no expectations, no previous experience and a new glasses prescription and so was ready to immerse myself in the world of LGBTQ+ cinema, and in turn reflect on my own queerness.
My first film highlight is Ticker, one of the films I watched as part of the ‘Silver Heart’ category, highlighting the stories of older LGBT+ people, and it was a quick way to make me bawl. Ticker was a beautifully real portrayal of the earnestness of getting old with your partner and was a very refreshing take on an older gay couple. It was intimate, it welcomed you to not only experience a short car ride of theirs, but the echoes of life lived, the remembrance of songs danced and the hesitation of affection. It left the audience misty eyed as we all slowly digested this 9-minute snippet of love and tenderness.
This short film was an excellent way to highlight people that are often overlooked in the media. It reminded me of the LUMI Award winning film, Where do all the old gays go? - a documentary examining queer people that are living long quiet lives while also examining those that we need to respect and remember who paved the way.

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