Though it feels like only yesterday we were rolling up the red carpet, it's that time of year again. Over 100 filmmakers from around the world are coming to Cardiff for this year’s Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival, including writers, directors, producers and actors at various stages of their careers. What's more, they're not just here to soak up the atmosphere and party into the wee hours (though I'm sure there'll be plenty of that). Many are taking part in industry talks and post-screening Q&A sessions throughout the week to share some of their experiences and expertise with the audience.
Some of them didn't have far to travel, others have travelled (quite literally) half way around the world. So let's meet some of the talented folk who you'll see at Iris 2019.
Sequin in a Blue Room
is the visually ravishing but decidedly hard-hitting story of Sequin, a 16-year-old who meets older men through dating apps and immediately “ghosts” them. Playing the title role is Australian actor Conor Leach. His other credits include the Amazon Prime series Preacher
and performances on stage in Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle
and a contemporary, queer reworking of Sophocles’ Antigone
is Conor’s first feature film and a stunning debut for this exciting young actor.
Sequin in a Blue Room
Sat 12 Oct 7pm | Cineworld Screen 15 | Q&A with Conor Leach
Sun 13 Oct 2pm | Cineworld Screen 14 | BSL interpreted
An advocate for better representation of women and LGBTQ+ people in the Philippines’ film industry, Samantha Lee is one of the rising stars in the country’s burgeoning queer cinema. Her debut feature, Baka Bukas
, earned her the Emerging Talent award at Outfest in Los Angeles, and she is visiting the 2019 Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival with her second feature, Billie and Emma
, the story of two young women who fall in love at a Catholic girls’ school.
Billie and Emma
Sat 12 Oct 8:30pm | Cineworld Screen 14 | Q&A with Samantha Lee
Sun 13 Oct 12pm | Cineworld Screen 14 | BSL interpreted
Born in Kfar Yedidia, Israel, Tomer Heymann is a documentary maker with a career spanning almost twenty years. Often co-directing with his brother Barak, he has made fifteen documentaries to date, the latest being Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life
. This powerful feature length documentary is an intimate, no-holds-barred portrait of Israeli porn star Jonathan Agassi (real name Elkana Yonatan Langer), and Tomer will be taking questions from the audience following the screening.
Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life
Thur 10 Oct 9pm | Cineworld Screen 15 | Q&A with Tomer Haymann
Brisbane-based filmmaker Mary Duong is the creator and co-writer of Two Weeks
, a nine-part web series that premiered on YouTube and is being shown, in a feature-length edit, at this year’s festival. The series follows the lives of various LGBT+ characters living and loving in Brisbane and won awards at Melbourne WebFest, Long Beach Indie International Film, Media, and Music Festival, and the Industry Panel Award at the UK WebFest 2017. She’ll be talking a little about web series in general and her experience of making Two Weeks following the screening.
Fri 11 Oct 3pm | Atrium Theatre | Q&A with Mary Duong
Based in London, Cambodian-born writer and director Hong Khaou is a two-time Iris Prize alumnus, having been nominated in its inaugural year for his film Summer
and again in 2011 for Spring
. This year he visits Cardiff with his second feature film, Monsoon
, which stars Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians, A Simple Favor, The Gentlemen)
as a young Vietnamese-British man who returns to Saigon decades after his family left as refugees from the war. Hong’s first feature, Lilting
, starred Ben Whishaw and won awards at Sundance, Queer Lisboa and the GLAAD Media Awards, and was nominated for a BAFTA and two British Independent Film Awards.
Fri 10 Oct 6pm | Cineworld Screen 14 | Q&A with Hong Khaou
Karole di Tommaso
The Welsh have been called “Italians in the rain”, and so we hope Italian writer-director Karole di Tommaso will feel right at home in Cardiff when she visits Iris 2019. Her feature film Mamma + Mamma (Mom + Mom)
is a touching comedy-drama about a lesbian couple’s frustrated attempts at starting a family. It’s Karole’s first feature, following her 2013 short film Sorelle
, and is being shown in partnership with the Italian Film Festival Cardiff.
Mom + Mom
Fri 11 Oct 8:30pm | Cineworld Screen 14 | Q&A with Karole di Tommaso
Sat 12 Oct 12pm | Cineworld Screen 15
Born in Indiana and based in New York, Mark Blane is an actor, writer and film director. His directorial debut, Cubby
, is a coming-of-age “dramedy” in which he plays the protagonist (also named Mark), a young man on a journey of discovery with a precocious six-year-old and a leather-clad imaginary friend. Mark’s previous credits include co-writing the Academy Award nominated documentary The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
Thur 10 Oct 8:30pm | Cineworld Screen 14 | Q&A with Mark Blane
Sat 12 Oct 12:00pm | Cineworld Screen 14
Pauline might not have travelled quite as far as others, but her presence at this year’s festival is every bit as appreciated. With over thirty years working in film and television, she was the producer of the ground-breaking 1993 film Gadael Lenin (Leaving Lenin)
. She’ll be introducing the film at Iris 2019, as an opportunity for festivalgoers to see a key moment in the depiction of queer characters in Welsh language cinema.
Gadael Lenin (Leaving Lenin)
Wed 9 Oct 4:30pm | Atrium Theatre | Q&A with Pauline Williams