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Iris Prize Festival 4th Iris Prize Festival
The 30 shorts in competition for the Iris Prize. Cardiff, 4-9.Oct.10 (page 3 of 4)
Gayby   4/5  
dir-scr Jonathan Lisecki
with Jenn Harris, Matthew Wilkas
10/US 11m
wilkas and harris
gayby Like a shorter, smarter version of The Next Best Thing, this film centres on two friends who decide to have a child. The straight yoga teacher Jenn (Harris) has given up on finding a husband, so she proposes that her old gay pal Matt (Wilkas) father a child with her. But she wants to conceive the natural way. Their initial conversation is amusingly realistic, and the hesitant, awkward bedroom encounter that follows is simply hilarious. The whole story takes place in three quick, snappy scenes that leave us convulsing with laughter. Throwing old friends into such a strained situation is simply brilliant. The screenplay is extremely witty and knowing ("Should I take my bra off?" "God, no."), and it's sharply well-realised by Lisecki and these two extremely engaging actors.


Cannibals   2.5/5   Caníbales
dir-scr Jaunma Carrillo
with Fran Fernandez, Hugo Parra, Carlos Lorenzo, Rolo Salame, Juan Gomez, Emilio Rabakoss
09/Spain 19m
Cannibals This experimental film has a terrific visual style and a real sense of suspense as it goes along, but it's far too long and the final moments feel not only like a cheap gag but also undermine everything that comes before by making it utterly implausible. This is odd because up to this point it feels so joltingly realistic. It's shot entirely in the point-of-view of someone driving through Madrid to a cruising site, then walking through the vast park watching a variety of sexual situations and making random eye contact with various men, most of whom seem interested. This is all extremely full-on, generating a real feeling of both loneliness and expectation, while a low buzz grows in intensity on the soundtrack. But as it continues, it starts to feel both aimless and endless. There is a point at the end, but filmmaker Carillo could have said this in three minutes instead of 19. And in the end he is indulgently refusing to say anything, not to mention inadvertently reinforcing nasty cliches and narrow-minded bigotry.
Love and Other Red Spot Specials   3.5/5  
dir-scr Lauren Anderson
with Paddy McIvor, Ray Tiernan, Shane Nagle, John Flaus
09/Australia 6m
Love and Other Red Spot Specials In a small town in Australia, Cecilia (McIvor) is the only transvestite, and she's fully aware that no one likes her. But she holds out hope for Evan (Tiernan), the manager of the local supermarket, and she steals something so she'll be taken to meet him. With unexpected results. Narrated with god-like sarcasm (by Flaus), the film has a hilariously dry tone, while it's snappy pace allows the filmmaker to tell a rather big story in a very small amount of time. It also cleverly contains a wonderful message about how we're most likely to find love in an unexpected place. It's a little silly, but also thoroughly charming in a warped sort of way.
Inflatable Swamp   4.5/5  
dir-scr William Feroldi
with Francis Beraud, Paul Huntley-Thomas
10/UK 14m
beraud and huntley-thomas

Special Mention:
Iris Prize 2010

Inflatable Swamp With a surreal touch, promising filmmaker Feroldi makes this simple little film surprisingly haunting. It centres on a young guy who doesn't bother putting on clothing in his London flat in between sexual encounters. He catalogues each man with a blue balloon in his bathroom, as he bathes and prepares for the next wordless, soulless encounter. Then something happens right in the middle of sex that forces him to see another man as a human being. Quiet and observant, Feroldi shoots and edits with a telling attention to the tiniest detail, minutely observing the features of this man's life, which has been stripped of all personal touches. It's a vivid little film that constantly surprises us, and the clever, sexy ending not only leaves things tantalisingly open to interpretation but leaves us with a haunting question: "What would it take to break the mindless patterns in my life?"
306   2.5/5
dir Elliot London
scr Elliot London, Gregory Phelan
with Brian Estel, Scott Lynch-Giddings
10/US 10m
306 A preachy and moralistic tone undermines this nicely shot and played little film about Eric, a university student in Chicago who takes a job for a friend. Soon we realise that the work is as an escort, and the encounter with the customer is awkward and harsh. The film is made with first-rate production values, directed with skill by London and strongly performed by the cast. The musical score is especially effective. But the ultimate message seems to be that sex is desperate and sad, and betraying your partners is both pathetic and somehow inevitable. We know Eric has a partner named Sam, so he's no better or worse than the married man he's having sex with, although the filmmaker tries to paint both as morally suspect. So the overwhelming guilt Eric feels afterwards feels rather forced.
Dear Dad, Love Maria   3.5/5  
dir-scr Vince Mascoli
voice Natalie Cake
09/US 4m
Dear Dad, Love Maria
Dear Dad, Love Maria This evocative and fairly brief short film is a vividly animated accompaniment to a letter written from Maria (voiced by Cake) the night before her gender-reassignment surgery. The film explores her memories (as a little boy of course), struggling to come to terms with her identity and the long road to becoming who she feels she really is. "Soon you'll have a gay daughter," she tells her dad. The illustrations are simply beautiful, elegantly capturing the emotions as the film grapples with the bonds of a parent and child. It's colourful and extremely inventive, although in the end it's perhaps more haunting than moving.
Masala Mama   3/5
dir-scr Michael Kam
with Mohan Vellayan, Vernon Ng, Narainda Subramaniam
10/Singapore 8m
Masala Mama
Masala Mama In a corner shop in Singapore, the queeny clerk (Vellayan) is struggling to cope with his customers. Not only is the boy Ah Seng trying to steal comic books, but the local cop Ravichadran is distractingly cute. And he doesn't mind giving Ah Seng a book now and then. Things take a nasty turn when Ah Seng's father lashes out with homophobic violence at the clerk. So the clerk and Ah Seng adopt comic book hero identities of their own to even up the score. The film is lively and brightly colourful, with a cute, chaotic tone that distracts us from the cheesy production values. And while it's very corny, there's a strong point in here about human dignity.
Yossi and Yasmin   3/5
dir-scr Nir Ne'Eman
with Tom Gershon, Tomer Gloskinus, Ben Ravid, Nuria Vital, Jonni Zicoltz
09/Israel 7m
Yossi and Yasmin
Yossi and Yasmin Nostalgic and moody, this short follows Yossi, who as an adult visits his old school, where he remembers his best friend Yasmin. This takes him back, as he relives conversations with her about love and sexuality - things that clearly made him who he is. The film is very well-shot, with a wistful tone that combines thoughtful reminiscence with funny anecdotes. As teens, we see Yossi and Yasmin discussing their hopes and fears as well as the experiences they've had and hope to have. While the narrative begins to feel somewhat talky and sentimental, and also slightly melodramatic, this is an extremely atmospheric short that really gets into the mind of its central character.
At Night I Was Beautiful   3.5/5  
dir Steven Wilsey
with Steve Drum, Derek Calibre
10/US 9m
At Night I Was Beautiful
At Night I Was Beautiful This strikingly visual narrative documentary centres on a young guy reminiscing about working as an escort to pay his way through acting school. As he talks to the camera, we get the feeling that sex to him is like an addiction, and sure enough he talks about his drug use as well. But most intriguing is the way what he says indicates so strongly that having sex wasn't necessarily about the money; it was also about the connection, mainly one that turned out to be particularly strong. There's also the whole issue of control, which brings palpable feelings of self-doubt. The film is an evocative mixture of colour and black and white, with inventive visual details and artful re-enactments. But since it has such a personal tone, it's odd that the film is shot and edited in a way that's both preachy and timid.


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