From Banned Kenyan lesbian drama Rafiki to BAFTA nominated short Wren Boys. Looking back on Iris on the Move 2019
Iris on the Move's stop in Bournemouth at the Bournemouth Film School was an ambitious project from the jump. After organiser Lewis Bayley only met Iris Prize creator and festival director Berwyn Rowlands in November 2018, the festival events were set in motion immediately and were turned around in less than three months time.
Iris on the Move was picked to take place in February as part of National Student Pride and LGBT History Month 2019. The 4 day festival showcased countless short films from 2018's main Iris Prize festival, along with 2 feature films and a Bournemouth Film School showcase screening of it's best LGBT+ graduation films.
The first day of the festival's events began with an open lecture with Dr Andrew Vallance and Clare Cahill, dubbed 'Queer Spaces', where the two academic staff discussed the concept of queerness and its history; including its most recent resurgence. The open talk was open for audience discussion and the participation of students and attendees really responded to the importance of reclaiming the term 'queer' to move away from binary box ticking of gender and sexuality.
The 'Queer Spaces' talk was followed by a Best of British showcase from the top 4 films of the 2018 iris Prize category. Half of the showcase were documentary shorts and the other two fictions. The winning film in Best of British at Iris Prize 2018 was BEYOND 'There's Always a Black Issue, Dear, a documentary from filmmaker and photographer Claire Lawrie, which explores the role of black British people in the LGBT+ movement, who have often been airbrushed from Queer history. The showcase also included the BAFTA nominated fiction Wren Boys, which follows an Irish priest and his nephew and they travel to a prison in Cork the day after Christmas.
The creators of Wren Boys, director Harry Lighton and producer Sorcha Bacon, gave a lengthy Q&A in two halves to attendees. Delving into their careers and future projects, advising students on breaking the industry and their creative process. Current final year students Daisy Leigh-Phippard and Anna K. McCallum conducted the Q&A segments, one to a larger audience in the main theatre and a follow up interview with a smaller select number of students.
The early evening of day one saw a curated programme of shorts exploring varied forms of Intimacy, including the TIFF award- winning short film Pre-Drink which sees the complication of a longtime friendship when the two friends, one gay man and one transwoman, decide to get intimate.
The opening night feature film screening of 1985 from director Yen Tan starred a stellar cast including Cory Michael Smith, Virginia Madsen and Michael Chikilis. The 1980's based drama was shot on stark black and white film and follows a closeted gay man's return to his home town of Texas in the midst of AIDs epidemic.
Day 2 of Iris on the Move Bournemouth kicked off with a morning talk on submitting short films to film festivals with Iris Prize creator and festival director Berwyn Rowlands. The talk gave an insight into the submission, selection and programming process and advised final year students on their festival strategy for their upcoming graduation films.
Following Berwyn's talk a showcase of films curated under the theme of Gender & Family screened. This was the proceeded by the 'Youth' showcase which was curated by a group of young programmers. The screening included Mrs McCutcheon, an Australian drama following a young boy wanting to wear a dress to school. The colourful, heartwarming short film become an instant audience favourite at the festival.
The festival discussion panel was made up of a diverse group of filmmakers. Dr Nick Bamford, a TV and Theatre producer and director, and author of Directing Television (2012). IndieWire Award-winning music composer Victoria Wijeratne, who has made a name for herself composing scores to a plethora of LGBT+ short films both fiction and documentary, and composer of feature film The Liability starring Jack O'Connell and Tim Roth. The third panel member is Bournemouth Film School graduate Ruby Parker-Harbord, whose graduation short film Missed Conceptions has gone on to be screened at a number of festivals in the UK and abroad - including Europe's largest LGBTQ+ Film Festival and BAFTA accredited festival BFI Flare in London. The chair for the panel was Iris Prize director Berwyn Rowlands who lead the discussion from asking the question 'what story do I tell?' through to the controversial issue of casting LGBT+ roles.
The final event of day two was a programme of LGBT+ Bournemouth Film School graduation films. The four film showcase included a poetic exploration of gender in Silver Studded Blue from director Niamh Farrelly, animated short The Queen's Tale by Sarah Horns and Nathalie Sandstad, real life inspired Missed Conceptions from one of our panelists Ruby Parker-Harbord and Bleach from director Jesse Lewis-Reece - which was nominated for Best British Short at the 2018 Iris Prize festival.
The final day of guest events began with an overall Best of Iris showcase, which included the best shorts from the previous two days with the addition of the Iris Prize winning film from 2018 - Three Centimetres. The other three films were Mrs McCutcheon, Wren Boys and Pre-Drink. The screening was followed immediately with a Q&A with Lara Zeidan, the writer and director Three Centimetres, who explained the making of the film and the two year journey from initial script to shooting. Our student interviewers Anna K. McCallum and Daisy Leigh-Phippard conducted the Q&A once again. (Their full interviews from Iris on the Move 2018 will be published in BUMF magazine later this year.)
The day ended with a busy evening screening of the controversially banned Kenyan lesbian drama Rafiki from Wanuri Kahiu. The screening coincided with the date of Kenya's high court decision announcement on repealing the 89 year old law criminalising same-sex relationships, however the decision was pushed back to May. Rafiki follows Kena and Ziki, two daughters of opposing political candidates, as they fall in love.
A drinks reception followed the screening of Rafiki where G&T's were served, courtesy of the festival sponsor Pink Pepper Gin at Audemus Spirits. The event topped off three days of exciting screenings, talks, guest visits and discussion.
The final day of the festival was 'Second Chance Saturday' which gave everyone chance to see their favourite showcases again or to catch up with any films they may have missed.
Alumnus Michael Pearce wins BAFTA
Film Production course graduate Michael Pearce won the BAFTA for Outstanding Debut for a British Writer, Director or Producer at the #EEBAFTAs on Sunday 10th February 2019 at the Royal Albert Hall. He took home the award with his producer Lauren Dark for his debut feature 'Beast'.
Their film was also nominated for Outstanding British Film alongside 'MCQueen', 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and Yogos Lanthimos' 'The Favourite'.
The 2019 BAFTAs was not the first nomination Pearce had received in his career. In 2014 he was nominated for Best British Short for his film 'Keeping Up with the Joneses'.
You can watch Michael's win and acceptance speech below.