Vessels – Winner, Iris Prize 2015
Directed by Arkasha Stevenson, Vessels follows Diamond, a young, Latina, transgender woman living in Los Angeles. Diamond works at a garment factory for little pay, and is unable to afford healthcare, let alone the breast implants she desperately desires.
When her friend Hope shows off the new breasts she obtained through illegal black market silicon injections, Diamond is presented with an opportunity to gain the more feminine physique she has wanted her entire life. The girls go visit the “pumper,” Prayleen, who helps Diamond sculpt the body of her dreams.
Elements of dark humour mixed with pretty graphic injection scenes are a great way of not skimping on a story when confronted by a limited budget. Certainly not the most polished short at Iris this year, but definitely a stand-out to any jury, it’s easy to see why Vessels was awarded The Iris Prize.
Great performances from the three ladies, Diamond Cruz and Hope Smith as the struggling young girls and Maria Roman as the ‘plumper’ really sell this short to the viewer. This is definitely one of those shorts that will stay with the viewer for a long time afterwards.
Brilliant and beautiful, with real bite.
A story of hidden feelings coming to light and the tensions and conflicts that arise from it, Writer/Director Guy Sahaf’s tense narrative focussing on two friends confronting one another and themselves while camping in the desert is taut and well crafted throughout.
With solid performances from the two main performers Dor Ronen and Ziv Shalit and impressive cinematography expressing a narrative that doesn’t rely on a script serve to keep the viewer engaged and intrigued.
While the dialogue is slim, it is in no way lacking, serving instead to underline the tension and conflict brewing between our two protagonists.
Had this short been executed less competently, one would be tempted to call it ‘brave’; in this case however, it’s nothing short of an impressive filmmaker confidently flexing his creative muscles.
Charlie, by written and directed by Shawn Ryan, sees the eponymous character escape his nagging, unsupportive and borderline-abusive mother and wander into the wilderness, only to find the polar-opposite family waiting for him.
Ryan, who also plays the short’s titular Charlie, portrays his emotional turmoil and inner monologue without any dialogue in an impressive and understated manner, ably supported by a supporting cast including Park & Recreation‘s Jim O’Heir.
The story is touching, if possibly slightly twee, however this doesn’t detract whatsoever from what is a lovely, uplifting film that leaves the viewer wanting to know more.
Set against the vibrant backdrop of modern-day Cuba, Boxeadora documents the true story of Namibia, Cuba’s only female boxer, who wants nothing more than to compete for her country in the Olympics, but is forced to train in secret as female boxing was made illegal after Castro’s revolution.
While the film is sure to cause multiple debates over the relevance of female boxing, director Meg Smaker’s storytelling makes this an undeniably well-shot, powerful and inspiring piece. Namibia shows she’s not only capable of boxing at an olympic level, but that her abilities far outstrip many of her male peers.
Cuba’s picturesque streets serve as the perfect backdrop for this tale of ambition, sexism and one-on-one violence.
The Little Deputy
Writer/Director Trevor Anderson’s telling of the memory of an awkward interaction while having his photo taken with his father, switches from 80s handycam memories to present day HD shots, to fantastical Wild West scenario in a very engaging and well-executed style that helps to underscore the very fun aspects of this short. While this is a light-hearted story, it hints at darker things untold but wisely keeps its focus on the entertainingly sweet narrative at hand.
Witty, well-performed and heartwarming, this is a story as touching as it is funny.
Intrinsic Moral Evil
A change of pace from other entries in Iris 2015, Harm Weistra’s Intrinsic Moral Evil is a dialogue-free dance piece with an impressively layered narrative.
The dancers are, of course, brilliant, and the cinematography is very well-executed throughout. The whole concept for this is a little different and leaves the viewer on the back foot (as it were) and with plenty to talk about afterwards which, in this reviewer’s opinion, is exactly what a good short film should do.
And, of course, all three dancers involved are extremely sexy and that’s very nice too.
4th grade is all about fitting in. For ten-year-old Daniel that means owning the latest in Hello Kitty fashion, liking the cutest boy in class, and convincing yourself you’re Asian when everyone else thinks you’re white.
A fun and joyful romp of a short, in a similar vein to 2013’s Hey, Kowalski, this isn’t really about sex or even sexuality, more a boyhood crush and an attempt to impress.
A simple yet sweet story by Phillip Guttmann is told though great performances from young Davis Desmond and his teacher, played by Sari Lennick. The direction and camerawork are beautiful, vibrant, vivid and a lovely antidote to some of the darker narratives we’ve seen at Iris 2015.
Very sweet, and one of my personal favourites of the year. This is a lovely piece, guaranteed to make you smile.
Reviewer: Scott Flashheart Elliott
In short: a film festival in Cardiff where the world’s most promising up-and-coming queer film-makers compete for up to £30,000 towards their next short film.
But it’s not just that, as the Festival’s tagline “Watch movies. Party nightly. Repeat.” hints:
It’s a chance to network and rub shoulders (or possibly other body parts) with interesting, talented people in the film biz.
It’s a chance to watch funny, clever, heartwarming, and heart-breaking queer cinema from around the world amongst like-minded individuals.
It’s a chance to drink at night and watch movies all day.
(Copyright Naik Media)
More than all of these things, it’s a chance to be a part of something special. Not for nothing does the welcome pack given to everyone on the first day bear the words ‘welcome to the family’: That’s exactly what Iris is. From the moment one arrives at the festival, to be greeted by festival Directors Berwyn and Grant, or one of their small but incredibly hard-working and capeable team, the sense of inclusion and the personal touch is apparent in everything. This isn’t a large, brassy corporate event like some of the more well-known film festivals can be, but instead a home-grown event that’s managed to hold on to that welcoming vibe while growing in membership and stature every year.
Maybe that’s the real prize at Iris: the feeling of being part of a large and constantly-growing creative family, being able to share in conversations and hangovers in equal measure and throughout every minute of the festival, the underlying feeling of love and care that goes into making those five days in Cardiff some of the best of the year.
Or maybe it’s the £30,000. Hard to tell, really. Come to Cardiff in October 2016 and find out for yourself.
Find out more at http://Irisprize.org