The queer film festival championed LGBTQI women and non-binary people


Taking place last weekend in Cardiff, the Iris Prize 2021 was a true celebration of LGBTQI film. The winners were announced on Saturday night at a special awards ceremony, with attendance from directors David Färdmar and Peeter Rebane, actor Tom Prior and US filmmaker Cheryl Dunye, famous for her involvement with Netflix’s Bridgerton.

Sponsored by The Michael Bishop Foundation, UK filmmakers Sam Arbor and Adam Ali championed a double win in scooping the £30,000 Iris Prize alongside the Best British Award. Marking the second time in the festival’s fifteen-year history that a film has won both categories, Sam and Adam will be utilising the prize money to make a new short film in Wales. Doesn’t that sound great?

Heather Small at the opening night of The Iris Prize 2021

Playing a mother under emotional siege in Leyla Yilmaz’s Not Knowing, Senan Kara secured the prize for Best Performance in a Female Role. Sponsored by DIVA Magazine, the award was granted by our very own Roxy Bourdillon. Moreover, Udo Kier scooped the Best Performance in a Male Role for his achievement in Todd Stephens’ Swan Song and the Iris Prize Youth Jury Award, sponsored by Cardiff University, was awarded to Lloyd Eyre-Morgan and Neil Ely for S.A.M.

That’s not all, DIVAs! Rebel Dykes won the prize for the Best Feature Award, sponsored by Bad Wolf. Directed by Harri Shanahan and Siân A. Williams and produced by Riot Productions’ Siobhan Fahey, the documentary follows the true story of the Rebel Dykes, a radical community of women and non-binary people living in post-punk 1980s London. Having met at Greenham Common peace camp, the Rebel Dykes became a collective of artists, performers, musicians and activists hell-bent on increasing queer visibility. Their story is truly inspiring, and their win is a watershed moment for #WLW representation. Yay!

The fun doesn’t stop there! Whilst this year’s festival might be over, Iris On The Move, the touring outreach initiative of Iris Prize, begins in January 2022. It will offer special screenings and workshops across the UK, including in London, Manchester, Brighton and Glasgow. Next year’s festival will be running in October 2022 – see you there, DIVAs!

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