Scaring Women at Nightdirected by Karimah Zakia Issa (Canada), has been announced the winner of the Iris Prize 2023, Cardiff’s InternationalLGBTQ+ Short Film Prize, supported by The Michael Bishop Foundation. The £30,000 prize enables the winners of the Iris Prize to make a new short film in Wales.
F**KEDdirected by Sara Harrak has won the Iris Prize Best British Short sponsored by Film4 and Pinewood Studios. The winner will receive a package of services sponsored by Pinewood Studios Group and all of the nominated films are eligible for consideration for BAFTA and can automatically be entered by the filmmakers.
Berwyn Rowlands, Iris Prize Festival Director said: “I am thrilled that both winners of our ‘big’ prizes are wonderful examples of great storytelling. They deal with subjects that may not be the easiest to handle but need to be told and told in a way that makes us sit up and listen. At Iris, we have always appreciated good storytelling, and I am delighted that we can celebrate just this tonight.
“Scaring Women at Night is the first Canadian film to win, and was nominated by Inside Out Toronto, who have been nominating films since the first edition of Iris. It gives a snapshot of a unique perspective that isn’t often discussed. Gender roles and stereotypes as well as male privilege and identity are tackled head on. And of course there is a twist in the tale. “It is refreshing that we have two female winners this year. F**KED is a female-driven story which I am excited to say explores female sexual desire, bringing this lust and base need out of the shadows.
“When I discovered that this year’s Best British Performance in a Female Role sponsored by Out & Proud award was going to not one, but two of the artists in F**KED, that was the icing on the cake! The judges could not decide between the two actors - Meg Salter, for the role of 'Jess' and Rosalind Eleazar, for the role of ‘Dani’ – so both were given the award.”
F**KED directed by Sara Harrak (pictured centre) with actress Meg Salter (pictured left), winner of Iris Prize Best British Short sponsored by Film4 and Pinewood Studios
IRIS PRIZEThe winner of the Iris Prize Supported by The Michael Bishop Foundation is Scaring Women at Night Karimah Zakia Issa (Canada, 2022) Ella is walking home, it's late and the streets are lonely and suddenly her fears seem to be turning into reality. Someone is walking a bit too close behind. As she does what’s necessary - calling a friend and crossing the street - we meet Ash and quickly discover that not only is he not threatening, he’s intimately familiar with the fears Ella is having. Trying his best to calm her he makes a call and takes a detour. Through his conversation he reveals that though he loves who he’s become, he will always grapple with the conditioning he was raised with and the change in dynamic with women. He feels lighter getting this off his chest, perfectly in time for their worlds to literally collide at another intersection. This time Ella is armed - her friend Freddy is pulling up, ready to rage against this “predator” but time stands still as they each learn that they’re more connected than they thought…
The highly commended films are:
- Mud Queen, directed by Nathan Fagan and Luke Daly (Ireland, 2023)
- Hundefreund (DogFriend), directed by Maissa Lihedheb (Germany, 2022)
The International Jury said: “Scaring Women at Night is a thought provoking look at the power dynamics at play in the simple act of walking down the street at night. It is a well-crafted short film with a unique perspective that is seldom explored in LGBTQ+ storytelling. Although it starts from a conventional place, the double perspective twist adds, together with the visual aesthetics, a unique depth to its depiction of a mundane and universal but tensed situation.
“Mud Queen has exquisite cinematography and a distinctive narrative perspective that beautifully humanises its characters, while skilfully portraying the intricacies of family dynamics. It is an immersive story due to great script writing and acting about a queer kid growing up with a mother who is struggling with her mental health, but at the same time is the one providing the only outlet to express himself and feel comfortable.
“Hundefreund is an edge of your seat story, with lots of anger and passion highlighting how society can have an impact on relationships. It manages to weave commentary on race and privilege into a tight short film that feels like there’s a next chapter which I would definitely want to see.”
BEST BRITISHThe winner of the Iris Prize Best British Short supported by Film4 and Pinewood Studios is F**ked directed by Sara Harrak (UK, 2023) What exactly are the rules in an open relationship? With no rulebook, it’s down to the couple to draw their lines… So when Dani tells Jess she might be interested in sleeping with guys again, it doesn’t go down too well. F**KED raises the question many of us secretly ask ourselves - have I really explored and enjoyed my own sexuality? There’s something about hitting 30 that makes you question whether you’re really being true to yourself.
The highly commended films are:
Tim Highsted, Channel 4, and Chair of the Iris Prize Best British Short jury, said: “We chose F**KED for its humour, originality and deftness. It is a witty, assured film examining the foibles and complexities of an open lesbian marriage with assured performances and a witty, character driven script. “A special mention has to go to two films: Ticker and Requiem. “Ticker is a beautifully observed, tender drama from writer director Thom Petty, about two older men facing their advancing years and the time they have spent together with a fresh and delicate tone. “Requiem is a beautifully crafted short and holds true transformative power for this story that reaches through the centuries with longing, fury, and determination.”
BEST FEATURE FILMThe winner of the Iris Prize Best Feature Film sponsored by Bad Wolf is Femme, directed by Sam H Freeman and Ng Choon Ping (UK, 2023) Femme tells the harrowing tale of Jules who is violently attacked by a gang of young men, whose ringleader is Preston. The homophobic attack causes Jules to retreat into himself, until a chance encounter with Preston points him in the direction of revenge.
PERFORMANCE AWARDSThe winner of the Iris Prize Best Performance in a Male Role in a Feature Film sponsored by Attitude Magazine is Hubert Mikowski, ‘Robert’ in Norwegian Dream, directed by Leiv Igor Devold (Norway, 2023)
The Jury said: “We truly believed in this captivating performance and wanted to see more.”
The winner of the Iris Prize Best Performance in a Male Role in a Feature Film sponsored by Attitude Magazine is Hubert Milkowski (pictured left) as ‘Robert’ in Norwegian Dream
The winner of the Iris Prize Best Performance in a Female Role in a Feature Film sponsored by DIVA Magazine is Amrit Kaur, ‘Azra’ in The Queen of my Dreams, directed by Fawzia Mirza, (Canada, 2023)
The Jury said: “Fantastic performance that conveyed so many emotions within two roles.”
The winner of the Iris Prize Best Performance Beyond the Binary in a Feature Film sponsored by Peccadillo Pictures is Bishop Black, ‘Queen Bitch’ in Captain Faggotron Saves the Universe, directed by Harvey Rabbit, (Germany, 2023)
The Jury said: “Their performance portrayed so much humour and entertainment and really stood out within the film.”
The winners of the Best British Performance in a Female Role sponsored Out & Proud are Meg Salter, ‘Jess’ in F**KED and Rosalind Eleazar, ‘Dani’, in F**KED, directed by Sara Harrak, (UK, 2023)
The Jury said: “Nothing can separate Meg Salter's and Rosalind Eleazar's masterful performances bringing to life the beautiful dance of a long-term couple operating as a single unit. They bring to life a couple who have a rich tapestry of history, connection, banter, frustration and love all within the confines of a five-minute story. A true joy to watch”.
The winner of the Best British Performance in a Male Role sponsored Out & Proud is Emma D’Arcy, ‘Tommy’ in The Talent, directed by Thomas May Bailey, (UK, 2023)
The Jury said: “Emma D'Arcy's beautifully and subtly crafted performance captured the inner longing and courage that leads to speaking from one's heart against hope and reason. Emma superbly captured the internalised complexity of fear, hope and longing of watching from the sidelines, daring to dream and stepping into the unknown.”
The winner of the Best British Performance in a Male Role sponsored by Out & Proud is Emma D’Arcy (pictured left) as ‘Tommy’ in The Talent
The winner of the Best British Performance Beyond the Binary sponsored Out & Proud is Son of a Tutu, ‘Miss Coco Lemon’ in Lemon, directed by Tala Nahas, (UK, 2023)
The Jury said: “Son of a Tutu beautifully captured the joy, anguish, confusion and despair of dealing with mental demons and voices from the past and present all competing for attention and constantly questioning their identity and sense of self-worth. A moving and complex performance that reaches deep within to reveal the true self.”
YOUTH JURY AWARDThe winner of the Iris Prize Youth Jury Award sponsored by Cardiff University is Realness with a Twist, directed by Cass Kaur Virdee (UK, 2023)
Realness with a Twist, directed by Cass Kaur Virdee (pictured left) with Kenzo Miyake-Mugler (pictured centre).
COMMUNITY, EDUCATION, and MICRO-SHORTS AWARDSThe winner of the Community Award sponsored by Mark Williams in memory of Rose Taylor is Where’s Danny, directed by Amy Pennington
The Jury said: “Choosing the community award was tough, there was such variety to watch and choose, we finally cut it down to two and then to our final decision, Where’s Danny? We picked Where’s Danny? As through comedic storytelling and slap stick fun it touched and bought attention to real issues within the LGBTQIA+ community. It shows the ongoing issues but also all the people that got lost on the way for fighting for equal rights.”
The winner of the Education Award sponsored by Mark Williams in memory of Rose Taylor is The Fight in the Dog, directed by Pamela Jikiemi
The Jury said: “A very tough category to judge as both films were quite unique and different in their style. In the end, we felt that The Fight in the Dog had a strong plot structure and overall narrative which secured its first place! Congratulations all!”
The winner of the Micro-short Award sponsored by Mark Williams in memory of Rose Taylor is Trickle-Down Economics, directed by Sophie Ansell
The Jury said: “Trickle Down Economics was a clear winner for all of us and a unanimous decision. The pace of the piece coupled with perfect styling, visuals and a clear political message really made the film stand out. We wanted to watch it again immediately!”
Iris Prize will return next year: Tuesday 8 October – Sunday 13 October 2024, and is online until the end of October.