The British LGBT Awards have been running since 2015 and aim to highlight and celebrate role models and organisations who work to better the lives of LGBT+ people in the UK. The Outstanding Contribution to LGBT Life award celebrates individuals whose work has made a significant impact to the LGBT+ community, and was won in 2019 by Human Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell.
Festival Chair Andrew Pierce Commented:
“I’m delighted that Berwyn has been recognised with this nomination. I’ve been able to observe Berwyn’s determination and commitment to make the Iris Prize a world leader from my vantage point as a member of the first jury in 2007 and very quickly after that the Chair.
I’ve seen Iris grow from the inaugural film festival in 2007 with a modest audience of 1,500 to an annual celebration of over 10,000 who gather in Cardiff to witness the presentation of the world’s largest LGBT+ short film prize.
Berwyn’s commitment to the LGBT+ cause started way back in the 1980s as an active member of CYLCH, the radical Welsh LGBT group. He was also the first president of Cardiff Lions RFC, and a member of Stonewall Cymru’s Media Watch group.
He has used the medium of film to shine a bright light not just on the discrimination and hypocrisy that is sadly is still part of so many of our lives. But the Iris Prize has also brought out some wonderful, heart-warming compassionate and amusing stories about the LGBT family worldwide. He’s made it easier for so many people to come out as part of the LGBT family. I’m proud to know him and support him in whatever way I can.
Berwyn is a visionary who delivers. He has the ability of getting the best out of those who work with him – this includes sponsors, the festival team, volunteers and the general public. He is truly one of the nice guys and I’m so pleased Berwyn has been recognised like this”
The Iris Prize team are proud and delighted that Berwyn has been recognised for his contributions to LGBT+ life, and this nomination confirms the impact and importance of the Iris Prize’s role in sharing LGBT+ film in Wales and beyond.
The award will be decided by a judging panel and will be announced at a ceremony in London on 29th May 2020.
Berwyn Rowlands – A film fan from an early age Berwyn was producing “movies” using his 8mm camera and projecting films for friends in his parent’s front room from the age of 9. Berwyn has produced films for cinema and TV content in Welsh and English which has been broadcast on BBC, ITV and S4C including Llety Piod (UK) a 90 min TV Movie starring Bill Nighy. He organized his first public film festival in Aberystwyth, Wales in 1989 which became known as the Welsh International Film Festival and included a weekend celebration of LGBT film.
In 1997 aged 31 Berwyn was appointed as the first Chief Executive of Sgrîn: The Media Agency for Wales. In this role, Berwyn led the establishment of Wales’ National Film and Sound Archive and secured the co-operation of all 22 local authorities to see a unified all-Wales location service – The Wales Screen Commission – established in 2002.
In 2006 he established the Iris Prize – the world’s largest LGBT short film prize at £30,000. 11 short films have been produced to date with the Iris Prize including Burger and Followers which screened at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2016 the festival celebrated its 10th anniversary and was recognized by Bafta as an “A” list festival. The Cardiff based event has featured in the top 50 film festivals in the world by Movie Maker Magazine for four years. The Iris Prize was recognized by The Queen at a reception for the British Film Industry in 2013.
He is regularly asked to talk about LGBT issues on TV and radio. In 1990 he was one of the founders of CYLCH – the first Welsh national gay and lesbian organization in Wales. The organization published the bi-lingual magazine Y Ddraig Binc and exhibited at the National Eisteddfod in Aberystwyth in 1992 when an anti-gay protestor left some shit on their stand!
He has also served on film award juries and speaks on both programming and event production at conferences. He has contributed to the European Short Film Symposium, Cork, the International Film Festival Summit New York and participated on the following film juries: OUTFEST, LA; Mezipatra, Prague; Kashish, Mumbai; INSIDEOUT, Toronto and Gaze, Dublin.