SPOTLIGHT On: Iris Prize – one film takes top two prizes

Brian Butler October 15, 2021

Baba, a film about oppression, courage and Queer communities, is the rightful winner of the top two awards at this year’s Iris Prize international film festival in Cardiff.

The short film, written and directed by Sam Arbor and Adam Ali, tells the story of Britannia, a Queer Libyan teenager whose dream is to move to Manchester and its Canal Street Queer community. Going back home for his passport an unexpected and shocking discovery changes the course of events.

The film won the main £ 30,000 prize and also Best British Short film – only the 2nd time this has happened in the Festival’s  15-year history. The main prize, sponsored by The Michael Bishop Foundation,  enables Sam and Adam to make a new short film in Wales. The Best British Short prize is supported by Film4 and Pinewood Studios and offers a special screening of the film.

Rasheed Bailey, chair of the main jury said: “ This is a skilfully constructed film that speaks to oppression, acceptance and the strength of community”. Hove-based Channel 4 senior executive Tim Highsted who chaired the Best British panel added: “ Baba is a visually striking piece of cinema that transported me into a very real reality with a brilliant twist”.

Other Iris awards included:

Rebel Dykes, directed by Harri Shanahan and Sian A. Williams – Best Feature Award.

Udo Kier, playing a retired hairdresser in a darkly comic film – Todd Stephens’ Swan Song – Best Performer in a Male Role.

Senan Kara, playing a mother under emotional siege in Leyla Yilmaz’s Not Knowing – Best Peformer in a Female Role.

Iris On The Move, the touring outreach initiative begins in January 2022, offering special screenings and workshops across the UK, in Brighton, London, Manchester and Glasgow.

There’s still time to catch the films from this year’s festival online until 31 October – – and All4 will broadcast the Best British  Shorts later in the year – watch out for previews and reviews in Scene magazine.