Here I bring to you more reviews from the Iris Film Festival!

Best British Shorts 2
We started the day with the second Best British Short category which was titled ‘Queer Now.’ This was a category that had mixed reviews from me. Again, they should’ve given this category a warning as it contained a very graphic rape scene. Again, it’s a lot for a 10 a.m morning.

What is life for queer people living in the UK today? What are the moments that define us? Has the progress of the least 50 years reached every corner of the country? These six short films ask all of these questions and many more, placing modern Britain under the microscope and reporting back to unsparing honesty. From a chance encounter that may or may not end in violence to tales of empowerment and confidence, these are warts-and-all portraits of Britain in a time of change.

Name: Two
Director: Kenneth O’Toole
Country: UK
Duration: 8 mins

Plot: Nathan (Asan N’Jie) and Zoe (Merika Vine) are catching up in a late night café and discussing plans for Zoe’s wedding and hen party, but when Nathan dons a feather boa, he catches the attention of another customer, Omar (Michael Fatogun). What follows is the story of two possible outcomes, one of hatred and one of desire, but which is the fantasy and which is the reality?

Opinion: I personally loved this film! I love the fact that your able to make your own decision of what the ending should be. A bit like a Goosebumps book! What I loved is that after the film had ended everyone was questioning what had happened. Was it all in Nathan’s head? Which is the truth? Personally, I feel the film lets us decide what ending we want. Obviously, I’m choosing the ending with desire as there are too many films at this festival that are just, so goddamn choice. It’s nice that this film gives me an option on whether I want it to be sad or not.

The sex scene in the alleyway resonated with me! I thought it was very animalistic, and I thought it was very sexy. With consent being a massive theme in this year’s Iris, I do wonder how that scene would’ve been different if Omar had asked Nathan’s consent. I do think it’s important that consent should be added into films, especially if your film depicts a sex scene. If we see it enough, then it becomes a norm. If you see people ask for consent in films, it will resonate into reality. 

Visually it’s a dark, gritty looking film but the cinematography is second to none. Amazing portrait shots in the alleyway and the editing is fantastic, nothing felt out of sync, it was very well edited! The acting was decent, especially from Zoe, played by Merika Vine who had the audience in fits of giggles and the music choice was perfect! One of the strongest contenders from this programme of shorts, Two will leave you second guessing and wanting more. I really want to know more about these characters and what happened after each ending! I would love to see a continuation for each ending!

Name: Bleach
Director: Jesse Lewis Reece
Country: UK
Duration: 23 mins

Plot: Teenager Jay (Elijah Harris) moves to a new town and joins the local boxing gym, Sharky’s, where he’s taken under the wing of its owner, the aggressive disciplinarian Shane (Kru Lundy). But Jay and Shane have a shared history and a bond that goes beyond the ropes of the boxing ring, and secrets that will cause them to question everything they think they know.

Opinion: I want to start by talking about the cinematography. Visually it was a looked gritty and had minimal amount of colour, most of the scenes and a dark blue tone to it. Every scene reminded me of Martin Parr’s photography. This film also represented the working class minority which is portrayed very little in queer cinema. There was no dialogue for our main protagonist. He didn’t need any. We knew what was going through his inner feelings thanks to the superb acting by Elijah Harris. The acting was absolutely outstanding by the entire cast and Kru Lundy’s performance blew everyone away since he isn’t an actor by trade. He should pursue the world of acting as he is absolutely phenomenal. 

Toxic masculinity was a major key theme in this short. There was no filter in how they approached the topic. All these boys are acting soo aggressive towards each other as if they have some sort of point to prove, especially Jay. The film also showed their vulnerable side which is also something that’s portrayed very little in films. We’re talking about very masculine men, sobbing their hearts out! You don’t get that, especially since most men are usually told to ‘man up’ and I guess subconsciously that’s what most directors would think, that men don’t cry. Each character was well rounded and well-written.

The only thing about this film I still can’t quite get my head around was the house scene at the very end. Everyone was gathered in this ladies house, and Shane didn’t know the boys were there and Jay didn’t realize the boys were there and it was very confusing. Even after all these weeks, I still don’t quite understand what was the significance of that particular scene. A serious, dark film where the cast will blow you away!!

Name: Crashing Waves
Director: Emma Gilbertson
Country: UK
Duration: 4 mins

Plot: Two young men meet on an inner-city housing estate, against a backdrop of high rises residential buildings. Are they about to fight or kiss? Crashing Waves explores the tension between both possibilities through expertly choreographed dance in the unlikeliest of settings.

Opinion: Check out the review Crashing Waves here.

Name: 46
Director: Joseph A. Adesunloye
Country: UK
Duration: 14 mins

Plot: Friends Adam (Guetan Calvin Elito) and Luke (Adam Strawford) are the life of the party. When they decide that Luke should host a party at his house, what was meant to be a fun, carefree night without responsibilities turns out to be a nightmare.

Opinion: The synopsis for this film is incredibly misleading, it gives the impression something really bad happened during the house party which was certainly not the case. In this film, there was a very long, and very graphic rape scene. It didn’t come with a warning, and this was the third/fourth film to depict rape in the early morning with no warning that it was going to happen. By this point, the entire festival audience had had enough. Why did we have soo many violent films this year!? Also none of them from the viewpoint of the victim, it was always from the viewpoint of a spectator or the rapist. This scene was too much. 

The film was good in a way that it made you believe that Luke was not going to go through with it, but instead, he does. I think the film would have been a lot more interesting if he hadn’t gone through with it and him dealing with his feelings, and these urges differently, but instead, he rapes his friend, washes a lot of blood off and then cries. The scene with Luke crying in the bathroom after he raped his friend also left me feeling slightly angry. Does the director want us to sympathize with a rapist? Is he trying to portray rapist in a more ‘human’ light so to speak? Please don’t do that. 

Visually the film looked really good a lot of shots from the back, so we’re following in our protagonist’s footsteps. Before the rape scene, we see Luke catching Adam with a girl, and my heart did break for him then. Unrequited love is a horrible feeling and to have to go through with it in your own house party, that’s tough, but you don’t rape. Mr. Adesunloye, you are a fantastic director, but I had already seen four films depicting rape. I didn’t want to see another.

Name: The Unlimited House of Krip
Director: Garry Robson
Country: UK
Duration: 28 mins

Plot: Mark Smith (Deaf Men Dancing), Garry Robson (Director of Fittings Multimedia Arts) and legendary Vogue “Mother” Darren Suarez formed the first ever “House” of deaf and disabled performers to walk in the Legendary House of Suarez Vogue Ball in 2017. The company, and this film, explore the traditions of the international Houses of the Vogue movement while bringing their unique perspective to the party.

Opinion: This was the first documentary in The Best British Shorts, and it was fantastic! It really set the bar high for the other documentary films shown at this festival. The story with was really interesting, and everyone involved in the film were very interesting and also very likable. You became emotionally involved in their world and their journey. 

It was interesting for me because I’ve never heard of House of Krip before so it was nice for me to discover something new. I also think this film stayed with me because this was the first happy, positive film from this programme (thus far). By the 20 minute mark, it got slightly tedious (only slightly). It was focused on them practicing towards the ball, and unfortunately, we didn’t get to see barely any of the final routines and performances.

I would’ve loved to have had 15 minutes of practice and 15 minutes of the actual event, but I’m not the director, it’s not my documentary. The only reason I really bring it up is because they won the event so I would’ve loved to have seen their final performances. There was nothing over-the-top about this documentary. Everyone was being their authentic self. There was no playing up for the camera. I loved it. I thought this was a fantastic, interesting documentary.

Name: Ladies Day
Director: Abena Taylor-Smith
Country: UK
Duration: 8 mins

Plot: Amma (Savannah Steyn) is paying a visit to the hairdressers. On the doorstep, she refuses a kiss from her girlfriend Jade (Jade Avia), in case anyone inside should see them. What follows is a slice of life, observed from the salon chair, as Amma dodges questions about why she hasn’t got a boyfriend and listens to the conversations of the women around her, which head into some uncomfortable territory.

Opinion: I don’t think I was going to be emotionally involved with any film but when they announced that Ladies Day was one of the three finalists for best British Shorts we screamed the house down!! 

Ladies Day is sweet and gentle, and visually it’s a stunning film with such vibrant colours! It was a beautiful film to watch. The characters were all well rounded, and they were all very striking (I’m not sure if that’s appropriate to say). The chemistry between each characters was an absolute delight! The whole film takes place inside a nail salon it was lovely to see an all-female cast hanging out in an all-female space. You never get to see that in films. I loved how authentic the script was regarding how they were talking about regular things; nothing over-the-top, nothing out of the ordinary. We’ve all been asked about why we don’t have boyfriends. Regardless of your sexuality, it’s always a very awkward question. Just a bunch of ladies having a nice chat. That’s life, that’s the lovely side of life. 

There was a strong sense of community in the film, and it was a massive theme throughout. There was a fantastic representation of women of all different ethnic backgrounds and representation mattered a lot to our lovely director. The film showed the challenges facing LGBTQ people amongst ethnic minorities, but it does with gentle humour. I also loved the ending! Simple yet effective and again nothing too over-the-top. I loved it, and this is a fantastic debut film from our director, who has a bright and amazing career ahead of her.

The seventh Iris Prize programme was titled ‘Lost and Found.’ There were three films in this category all of which varied in content and themes, and one of them felt incredibly original. Each film raised interesting questions about how we each deal with the world around and what is presented to us differently.

Modern life comes with its ups and downs, from health problems to shocking twists of fate, and LGBT+ lives are no exceptions to the rule. But how do we tackle life-changing circumstances with courage and grace, especially when the situation raises difficult questions about who and what we are? These three films take us along very different paths to show us lives that are suddenly transformed, and the resilience with which those challenges are met.

Name: Masks
Director: Mahaliyah Ayla O
Country: USA
Duration: 23 mins

Plot: Masks tells the story of a young Persian woman named Saba, who risks being outed to her family when she’s caught up in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub. Though a work of fiction, the film draws on events that are all too familiar, while ultimately offering a message of hope in the face of hate.

Opinion: Visually this film is stunning, and you cannot deny that. It looks absolutely gorgeous, and the set designs are second to none! The nightclub scene is a neon paradise, and the cinematography in the car was on point! The costumes and styling were spot-on and the outfits they were suited to the characters. I believed that these two were a couple, what I mean is sometimes in gay cinema the lesbian couple can sometimes look a bit mismatched but these two looked good together, and the chemistry was also on point. Both actresses provided a fantastic performance throughout the entire film which was helped the supporting cast immensely. 

The film was stunning and incredibly stylish – which left a bad taste in my mouth due to its content. The film is clearly based on the Orlando shooting which took place in 2016 where 49 people were killed in a terrorist attack at Pulse Nightclub. This only happened recently and therefore a very fresh incident. I have nothing against any film that wants to pay tribute, but make it a tribute. Don’t exploit the situation and for Christ sake don’t turn it into a glamorous music video.

The scene in the club had music and also slow motion, it was all in poor taste. We also saw a woman being shot right in the head. It was disgusting. I don’t want to see another queer character shot in the head, or dying. We get enough of that, and I certainly don’t want to see it if it’s based on an actual person. 

However, the film industry does sensationalize murder. As people, we could stop it, but we don’t – we rather watch it in a dark cinema. Why should I give this film such a hard time for sensationalizing such a traumatic event while all we do in society in sensationalize everything? The scene in the hospital was beyond ridiculous – they all had just witnessed and survived a traumatic event, why is everyone so calm? The directing was great but let’s be tactful.

Name: For the Good Times
Director: Andres Daniel Sainz
Country: Spain
Duration: 30 mins

Plot: It’s the birthday of Antonio, patriarch to a sizeable family, but everyone gathered in celebration, one of his sons decides that now is the perfect time to come out of the closet as gay. This revelation might test the tolerance of his nearest and dearest, especially his father, Antonio, but it’s not the only surprise he has up his sleeve.

Opinion: This film made me so so SO angry. I don’t think I’ve ever lost my temper at a screening, but I found myself unable to control my anger. The script was horrible, it was nasty, and it was over-the-top. We get it they don’t like the fact his boyfriend has down syndrome, calm down. It was interesting that they didn’t have a problem with him being gay, or to put it, in other words, they were prepared to be tolerant of the fact their son/brother was gay, but they could not tolerate the idea of him being in a relationship with someone who has down syndrome. It might make one or two audience members question themselves, as they might’ve thought he was their carer. Reflecting on it now – it was a very clever film. 

The music used was fantastic, and the minimal amount of colour in the first scene at their home was very striking. I loved the vibrancy of the budgie next to the grey/white of the living room decor. The scene with the musician coming in was absolutely hilarious, and the chemistry between the entire family was natural, funny and enjoyable to watch… to a degree. The father was a stereotypical hetero man. One of his lines was “as long as he doesn’t hit on me’ which not only prompted a major eye roll from his wife. I also felt that the father and mother seemed somewhat restrained, I felt like they were only staying together for their kids. It was also a nice touch that, by the end, everyone was polite to the young lad with down syndrome, the mother making sure that everyone said goodbye. A very clever film that makes us question our morals, but it went slightly over-the-top with its point.

Name: How I Got to the Moon by Subway
Director: Tyler Rabinowitz
Country: USA
Duration: 13 mins

Plot: After being diagnosed with ALS, Sol visits the hospital with his partner Ben to record a voicebank of phrases and words before he loses the ability to speak. But speaking openly in front of medical professionals doesn’t come easy to Sol. This isn’t so much a case of coming out as of trying to stay in.

Opinion: I loved this film! It was sweet and warmed my icy cold heart. The humour was very dry and not over-the-top whilst the delivery of each line was absolutely perfect. The acting was fantastic by all three leads, nothing over dramatic and the chemistry between Ben and Sol was so beautiful and so so sweet! I loved the mixture of reality and fantasy and I loved the CGI. I mean the entire film was just a pleasure to watch! 

In the film, Ben calls himself his business partner so I thought ‘oh Sol must like Ben secretly’ and honestly I still don’t really know what their relationship was, but it was beautiful regardless. I loved the scene where they made a correlation between the raindrops and the stars, I thought that was so clever and again so beautiful. 

Visually it was absolutely gorgeous. The scene on the moon (I think it was the moon. Should’ve written this review ages ago I cannot remember correctly) and the scenes on the subway ascending to the moon were also incredibly stunning! It was funny, sad, sweet, gorgeous. It was a fantastic film. My favourite from this entire programme. It was different and stood out from the rest.

Best British Shorts 3
The third and final programme for the Best British Shorts was called ‘Queer Now.’ This was the strongest programme from the entire festival and my absolute favourite. Each film was enjoyable and interesting, and each of them stood out in their own special way. Every film was a delight to watch, and I cannot recommend them enough! If you’re able to see them, please do, you will not be disappointed.

Delving into the history of queer lives in the recent past, the four films in this programme cover a wide range of experiences, from first-hand accounts of growing up black and queer in the 1970’s to a one man’s ‘bachelor’ life in Cardiff and London, when homosexual acts between men were still illegal. The stories told here are an important reminder of how far we’ve come, and perhaps how far we have to go. Even if the journey hasn’t always been an easy one each of these films ultimately offers a message of hope.

Name: Bachelor 30
Director: Angela Clarke
Country: UK
Duration: 15 mins

Plot: Bryan Bale grew up in Cardiff at a time when homosexual acts between men were still illegal. As a young man in the 1960s, he moved to London, enjoying everything the city had to offer, and he met the love of his life. With stories that are funny and intensely moving in equal measure, Bryan reflects on the past, while embracing his present and future.

Opinion: Check out the review for Bachelor 30 here!

Name: Beyond (There’s Always a Black Issue Dear)
Director: Claire Lawrie
Country: UK
Duration: 30 mins

Plot: From photographer and filmmaker Claire Lawrie, this charming documentary is a timely exploration of the role black British people played in the LGBT+ movement and how their voices and experiences were often airbrushed out of Queer history.

Opinion: The winner of The Best British Shortlist 2018, Beyond was a splendid documentary. I enjoyed every single minute of it, and so did the rest of the audience. Everything about it was absolutely perfect! The presentation was astounding, and it portrayed its subjects in the most commendable way. Everyone in the documentary was their true self, and you could see that. The fact that the director (one of the coolest people I’ve ever met) knew her subjects on such a personal level meant they were relaxed in her company which of course let us see their true character. It was a magnificent documentary and an eye-opener for me. 

As a white person, I don’t have to worry about representation. However, I’m not clueless, and I do understand that representation matters a great deal. I didn’t realize how much of a whitewash 70s Pop Culture was, and also how little I knew of the people shown in the film, it was embarrassing for me. We’re taught so little in school, and through the media, however, I can’t blame the media alone. 

On a positive note, as soon as I had the chance, I researched every one of these amazing talents because the film left me wanting more, to learn more. The film introduced me to some incredible talent, and I wanted to know more about their lives and their amazing careers.

I will leave the names here for each individual in the film; Robb Scott, Nicky Green, David Mcalmont, Roy Brown, Joe Ryner, Kenny Campbell, Samson Soboye, Frank Akinsete, Andy Polaris, Lana Pillay, Winn Austin, Les Child, Kenrick Davis. As you can there were many people featured in the film, but it wasn’t overwhelming. Nobody got lost in the film. Visually it was bright and vibrant, and I loved the use of interview as well as old footage. A well-deserved winner and an exceptional film. Please go and see it if you have the chance!!

Name: Fleshback: Queer Raving in Manchester’s Twilight Zone
Director: Stephen-Isaac-Wilson
Country: UK
Duration: 16 mins

Plot: From the galvanising effect of “Section 28” through to the alternative fringe of the Second Summer of Love, nights such as HomoElectric and Flesh became a hub of the queer rave scene in Manchester. Fleshback is a celebration of those eventful times, exploring the vivid history, enduring legacy and present landscape of this colourful world.

Opinion: For those of you who don’t know, I’m a rave photographer. I love my raves, and I knew I was going to fall in love with this film, and I did! The queer raving in Manchester looks absolutely amazing!! The different themes of raves and the different venues and themed nights overshadow the rave scene of Cardiff. The film looks gritty and unfiltered, and the old footage mixed with stylish cinematography suited the subject matter well. I didn’t realize how little Cardiff has to offer in terms of queer raving. As one of the biggest cities and one of the biggest up-and-coming cities in the UK, we should cater to safe raving spaces for everyone. 

Raving has been going on since the 90s, and recently there’s been a massive surge (I’m literally snapping in a new rave every month), so on a personal level, it was a good insight for me to see what the rest of the UK had in store in the raving scene. There was no bias in the film as in some of the event nights might raise some eyebrows, but they weren’t made to look like a gimmick, they were there to talk and promote their night. 

The film featured collectives such as Homo Electric, Meat Free, Body Horror, and High Hoops, all of which I would love to attend and see and experience. It was interesting for the viewer to see their different approach, yet sharing the same vision. The release of the film marks the 30 years anniversary since Section 28 was enacted. Section 28 was the last piece of homophobic law in the UK, and stated that councils should not “intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” An amazing documentary with incredible visuals. A delight for the senses.

Name: A Long line of Glitter
Director: Asten Holmes-Elliott
Country: UK
Duration: 16 mins

Plot: With contributions and participation from over 50 members of the LGBT+ community in and around Glasgow, A Long Line of Glitter is an often-touching overview of Queer life in Scotland’s largest city. Some interviewees grew up there, others saw Glasgow as a place of refuge, whether it was from hometowns further down the line or even – in one case – the far side of the world.

Opinion: This film was an absolute treasure and a beautiful film to end such a fantastic programme! The subjects were so joyful and happy, and their message at the end was inspiring. I loved the look of the film – bright, and positive. Some of the stories were sweet, some were bittersweet, and some were absolutely outrageous. For example, the policeman’s story of his time as a gay man in Australia was absolutely horrific. I would explain further but my memory of exactly what he went through is slightly hazy, and I apologize for that. However, he escaped, and that’s the main thing. All the characters were enjoyable, and I wanted to know more about their story. 

The focus was primarily on the older LGBT members of Glasgow and rightfully so. They have a history to tell as well as a story and a message for the younger LGBT community. I cannot even fathom how much hardships they must’ve gone through and look at them now. They’re happy, they have found their place and have found their community, their family. How can that not warm anyone’s heart? An absolute joy, and so heartwarming. I want to know the stories of all 50 participants as they all will be unique but will provide a message of hope for us all.

Iris Prize Programme 8
The title of the eighth Iris Prize short programme was ‘It’s a New Day.’ Again each of these films were very strong contenders, and I enjoyed every single one of them! You couldn’t be bored whilst viewing this programme as it wasn’t repetitive in terms of content. Each film was unique and special in its own way.

This programme is a celebration of freedom and new beginnings, from unlikely tales of sexual discovery to animated adventures, and from eye-opening confessionals to intimate character studies. With humour, empathy and an often jaw-dropping frankness, each provides a heart-warming snapshot of queer life in the 21st Century. These films shine a spotlight on those who find the freedom to live, love and be true to themselves.

Name: Rick
Director: JP Horstmann
Country: Germany
Duration: 16 mins

Plot: Rick is gay and deaf. And he works as an adult porn actor. The short documentary follows a young man who has managed to overcome considerable boundaries, expressing himself through physical pursuits and finding liberation in the lights of the film studio.

Opinion: I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary. Rick seemed like such an interesting character at the beginning of the film, and his life is incredibly interesting. The filming was absolutely great. I loved that you saw a glimpse of every part of his life and not just his work in the porn industry. You got to see him train, you got to see him practicing his wrestling, and he let us into his home life. The interview scene was staged but it was certainly interesting for us as the viewer. To, at least, get a glimpse into the process of hiring a porn star for a film. 

What I loved about this documentary was that it wasn’t a sob story. The film didn’t encourage you to take pity on him or to feel sorry for him. He’s just a porn star, who happens also to be deaf. That’s it. He also explains that working in porn gives him control over his obvious sex addiction which I found very interesting. He’s managed to find a way to control his addiction without having to give it up.

As I stated above Rick seemed like an interesting character, and he came off as a very nice person… until the subject of safe sex became a topic. He said in the film that before porn he used to sleep with 8-10 men a night. That was before porn, and when asked if he’s infected, he didn’t want to answer, meaning he hasn’t had himself checked and during the interview scene he says he can do bareback scenes. As soon as he said that he thought he was clean, my opinion on him changed immediately. I thought ‘wow this guy is an asshole.’ 

If you work in the porn industry you have to get yourself checked weekly. The fact he’s purposely not is downright irresponsible and incredibly selfish. This film had an honourable mention when they were announcing the top 3 and quite rightly so. It was really really interesting and to give credit to Rick, he was honest throughout. No lies, no frills, no bullshit, just a day in a life of a gay porn star.

Name: The Shit! An Opera
Director: Kevin Rios
Country: USA
Duration: 7 mins
Plot: After taking “the biggest shit of his life,” Frankie, a homosexual male in the year 2017, is inspired to try bottoming for the first time. Telling his story in the structure of a traditional opera, this ‘Top-Only’ Diva will do whatever it takes to become a power bottom.

Opinion: This was one of my favourite films from the entire festival. Definitely one of my top four. I couldn’t stop laughing throughout the entire seven minutes, which was the best 7 minutes of my life!! Never in my life have I needed something so much and never known until I received it. What I mean by that is, I didn’t realize how much I needed to see a man having a heart to heart with a CGI talking shit until I saw this film. I really cannot wait to see it again, and I cannot wait to show it to as many people as possible. 

This film was complete escapism for me, I complete forgot about everything. All my worries and troubles were completely forgotten about because I was so engrossed with a hilarious piece of cinema! It was such a fun film!! Kevin Rios, if you’re reading this, thank you for creating 7 minutes of pure hilarious joy for me! I tried to find some research to see what camera he used to film to have the squared framework which I absolutely loved, but I couldn’t find any information I’m afraid. It stood out from the rest as it was different in terms of visuals. 

I also loved the message. Yes, trying new things is scary at first whether it’s bottoming for the first time or trying out a new hobby, but you can do it. Believe in yourself, and you can do it. I can’t believe I learned that lesson from a talking shit. One scene I remember vividly was when Frankie intensely said ‘FUCK ME’ to the guy on top and honest to God I nearly wet the cinema seat. The delivery of every line was perfect, and the acting was perfect, everything about this film was perfect. Hilarious with an important message from the worlds friendliest talking shit. Kevin Rios, I cannot wait to see what else you have in store for us.

Name: Zero One
Director: Nicky Neon
Country: USA
Duration: 24 mins

Plot: Zero One follows Jimmy Park through NYC for the last 24 hours of 2013. He’s visiting home for the first time in years and has nothing to show for his time living overseas in Seoul. But old tensions come to a head when he confronts his homophobic sister over a deeply, dysfunctional family dinner.

Opinion: I loved this film! I related to this film on a very personal level, so personally, to the point, I had to hold back some tears. I am exactly like Jimmy Park. Twenty-seven, single and a creative who has nothing to show for it. I feel like a failure most of the time, and just like the character, I’m finding it soo hard to get out of that funk. Even though we may have seen the quarter-life crisis story once or twice before, this film felt fresh and unique. This is one those films where most audience members (especially those within the creative industry will go ‘Oh hell I’ve been there.’ 

After the film, I felt a bit more optimistic about my own future career-wise. (Which, by the way, since the Film Festival is getting better and better). I felt some weird relief knowing I’m not the only one. The film tackled some personal topics with great humour! The acting by our main protagonist was superb whilst the supporting cast carried the film! J.J Mattise who plays Sally had everyone in the audience in absolute stitches. Her comedic timing was perfect!! 

Visual this film is absolutely stunning!! A visual treat for the eyes! There is a pink hue throughout the entire film, and it gives that film that extra stylish oomph! The edits on the screen were absolutely perfect and again provided us with some comic relief. If I remember correctly this is a sequel to the film Ultra Bleu which I really need to watch!! A fantastic film from a fantastic and an all-around pleasant director who has a fantastic and promising career ahead of him!

Name: Bacchus
Director: Rikke Alma Krogshave Planeta
Country: Denmark
Duration: 6 mins

Plot: Alex, a young woman, bored with modern life, is lured by the mythical deity Bacchus into a colourful and mysterious world where she can explore her deepest desires.

Opinion: Finally some animation!! There has been barely any animation in this year’s Iris Film Festival (this being the first film thus far!), and it was stunning! The beginning was mostly focused on minimal colour to obviously represent her mundane, everyday life and then once she follows the deity Bacchus her whole world is then bursting with colour!!! 

The colours were mostly red, orange and yellow, the colour of fire and passion!! Of course, there wasn’t much in terms of script. Her exploration with Bacchus led to some female sexual pleasure which you could hear distinctly over the titillating imagery in front of you. It was hot. I’m not going to lie. The use of silhouette was a really nice touch. It made you use your imagination as to what you thought was happening. It was also really nice to have a happy, positive film where a woman was exploring her deepest desires. 

Usually, stories like this are mostly shown as a struggle whilst with this little short she’s happy, and everything around is new and exciting!! I absolutely loved it! The film’s message was all about going out of your comfort zone, exploring new things and that life doesn’t have to be all grey, life is what you make of it so why not add a little bit of colour? Why not explore your deepest desires? Just enjoy life and also enjoy this film!!

Name: The Things You Think I’m Thinking
Director: Sherren Lee
Country: Canada
Duration: 14 mins

Plot: Sean, a burn-survivor and amputee (Prince Amponsah) goes on a date with Caleb, a regularly-abled man (Jesse LaVercombe). After the bar, they go back to Sean’s apartment, where he must face his personal demons as he attempts to experience intimacy for the first time since the accident that caused his injuries, ten years previously.

Opinion: I thoroughly enjoyed this film! I loved it!! I thought it was a well executed, original film which I cannot recommend enough!! The story at the beginning was really cute!! Sean and Caleb were getting along like a house on fire. My tiny little fangirl heart was squealing away!! The chemistry between both leads was very natural and believable! I honestly forgot they were acting. 

After the kiss, Sean gets scared. He’s nervous because (from the sound of it) he hasn’t been on the dating scene for a while. I get it the dating scene is terrifying and especially if you’ve developed trust issues, which Sean appears to have developed. He thinks that Caleb sees him as a fetish which, of course, is far away from the truth!! He really likes him. You want to give Sean a good ol’ slap for being so guarded, and he ends up becoming quite mean. But you cannot blame him. You never really get told what Sean’s accident was. If I’m honest, you don’t need to know because that’s not what this story is about. Why add an unnecessary storyline to an already perfect story? 

The story was written by Jesse LaVercombe who plays Caleb. It was written specifically for Prince Amponsah who plays Sean, who, of course, could deliver the storyline the best as he could add any personal elements to it. The message I got from this film was you cannot judge anybody due to past experiences. You don’t know how someone is actually feeling, you have no idea what’s inside their head, so sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t matter because you’ve learnt something from it. This was really sweet, really sad and very charming! Highly recommend!!


Rhian Dixon
I'm a photographer and lifestyle blogger for my very own website . A manga and anime enthusiast who trains Super Saiyan style, I'm also partial to buying Asian films and never watching them x

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