FILM REVIEW: Iris LGBTQ+Film Festival Online – Part 1

Brian Butler October 25, 2021

‘If  you weren’t lucky enough to attend the 2021 Iris Prize LGTQ+ Film Festival in Cardiff , you’ve still got the chance to catch some of its most fabulous offerings, via this streaming link here

Resilience is an umbrella title for a group of short films that celebrate exactly that – the struggle to overcome problems and get Queer acceptance.

Lesbian- a Poem is precisely that – featuring Lisa Luxx – a shout out for women’s right to be as Queer as they want to be. It’s an intriguing combination of the poet reciting, and featuring other Queer women, whose body painting is meant to symbolise the layers of toxicity faced in society by Lesbians. It’s strong determined stuff : “ we have to steal our bodies back from men”, she tells us. Lisa says women have been ambushed by shame: “ Lesbian is a word stuck in your throat. Say it like it’s my name”.

Three Letters is a heart-wrenching documentary about Paul Davies, who on Father’s Day, tries to write a letter of explanation about his Queer life to his unsympathetic father. It’s a common situation, dealt with here with uncommon sympathy, honesty and hope.

Acrimonious – as the anguished lead character tells us – means angry/bitter. We’re following a Queer divorce, but to me the angst-ridden character finds solace and druggy fun with his friends a bit too easily. I wanted a bit more emotional pain and less self-pity.

Best of this great bunch by far is Baba – winner of the Iris’ two major awards this year – and no wonder why. It follows Adam Ali, who as Britannia is seeking to fulfil his Queer future by escaping war-torn Libya for the fabulous Canal Street in Manchester.

Thrown out by his father as a young boy when he dresses as a girl, he literally lives in a tunnel under Tripoli. Trouble is he has to surreptitiously go home to get his passport for an interview at the British Embassy. What happens next is both shocking and life-changing. It’s a terrific film and open to all sorts of possibilities for further development. And Adam Ali is great in it.

Finally, Split Sole is a magic little drama about street-wise gang guys who you assume are going out for a night of trouble, when one breaks into a theatre. It’s all been pre-arranged and what follows is a dance rehearsal, at once balletic, but also physically intimate. It’s a wonderful short interlude and interrupted by real-life all too soon.

You can catch a range of films on Iris’ website until the  end of October. Go to

Next up 2 Lesbian witches in the woods, a pair of incestuous twin brothers and a sex-mad monk – look out for my review of the startling Saint Narcisse.