“That’s all, folks!”

...for this year, at least.
This was the year the Iris Blogger started to feel sentimental. It was the year when it finally sank in that we've been going for 12 years, that Iris has a history and a legacy. We started small; the staff, jury and guests shuttling from venue to venue in a minibus. By the end of the first festival, I knew everyone. Over time, that changed. The team grew, the audience grew. Our closing night party went from being six of us sitting around a Lazy Susan in a Chinese restaurant, to an army of us taking over various bars and clubs around the city. There came a moment, on Sunday night, when - having had maybe one or two glasses of wine - I put my arm around the Festival Supremo's shoulder and said, "Look what you did." We were looking out over a sea of people from all over the world, chattering away among themselves, forging friendships that will last, continuing friendships formed at earlier Irises. It was beautiful. And then it was over for another year. The banners were taken down. The props were placed back into storage. But look what we did. This year's festival felt special. We had the winners of the Iris Prize, Best British Short and the Audience Award in attendance, and - judging by the stupendous audience reactions - each was a very popular winner. The Iris Blogger couldn't have been happier with the juries' decisions. Best British winner Beyond 'There's always a black issue, dear' is still a work in progress (albeit a highly polished one), so it'll be interesting to see if director Claire Lawrie uses her £20,000 package of post-production services at Pinewood to develop it further. As for Lara Zeidan, who won for her exceptional film Three Centimetres, I really can't wait to see what she makes with her prize. The Iris Blogger's suggestion that she make Four Centimetres: The London Eye was met with a stony silence from all those within earshot. And it was hopefully of some consolation to Harry Lighton, writer-director of the superb Wren Boys - shortlisted for both the Iris Prize and Best British - that he was this year's Audience Favourite. Iris may have left the building, but her work is ongoing, and she'll be touching down in various locations around the UK - and maybe elsewhere - throughout the year. Thank you for reading, and look out for occasional blogs on Iris and Queer Cinema in general between now and Iris 2019.