Back in 2007, the very first winner of the prestigious Iris Prize LGBT short film award was Dee Rees, for her excellent Pariah. Since then she’s gone on to make a feature length version of that short, and directed Quuen Latifah in a biopic of singer Bessie Smith. This year she became the first queer black woman to be nominated for a screenplay Oscar, for the much praised Mudbaound, and is already planning the Gloria Steinem biopic, An Uncivil War, with Carey Mulligan.
Now Iris has revealed plan for an event to celebrate Rees’ Oscar recognition of Dee Rees. Alongside Rees and co-writer Virgil Williams’ Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, Mudbound is also up for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for, Best Achievement in Cinematography and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures.
After winning the inaugural Iris Prize in 2007, Rees returnes to Cardiff to take her place on the Iris Prize jury the following year. In 2009, she made another visit to Wales where she made the short film Colonial Gods, the first Iris Production produced with the Iris Prize.
The planned event – Iris Celebrates Dee Rees – will take place at the Atrium, University of South Wales, where guests will have a chance to send their best wishes to Dee Rees at a special screening of her Iris Production, Colonial Gods, as well as the documentary An American Eye on Butetown, which follows the making of the film back in 2009.
Andrew Pierce, Iris Prize Chair, commented, “I’m immensely proud of everything Dee has achieved since her win at Iris back in 2007. I was a member of the first Iris jury and to be honest we were a little annoyed with Dee at the time. The simple idea for Iris was to create an LGBT short film competition. Dee’s competing short film however was so good, it became obvious she would win! So, the element of surprise was lost when she was announced the winner!”
“For those who have followed Dee Rees since those early days in both her and Iris’ careers it will come as no surprise that she is now being honoured with the highest accolades in the world of filmmaking. Her feature Mudbound is nominated in 4 categories at the 2018 Academy Awards – including a personal nomination for Dee in Best Adapted Screenplay alongside co-writer Virgil Williams.”
Economy Secretary Ken Skates said, “Huge congratulations to Dee Rees and the production team on Mudbound’s four Academy Award nominations. This really is a huge achievement and we are incredibly proud of Dee and her ongoing links with Wales. I wish Dee every success at this year’s awards and look forward to seeing more of her work produced here in Wales.”
The Iris Prize – Cardiff’s International LGBT Short Film Prize is supported by The Michael Bishop Foundation and at £30,000 continues to be the only LGBT short film prize in the world which allows the winner to make a new film. In 2016 and 2017 Iris was identified as one of the top 50 film festivals in the world by Movie Maker Magazine and promoted by BAFTA to ‘A’ list festival status alongside Cannes and Sundance by officially being recognised as a qualifying festival for the BAFTA awards.
The Iris Celebrates Dee Rees event on Sunday 4 March at 5pm is supported by University of South Wales and the Welsh Government.