Karimah Zakia Issa’s Scaring Women At Night wowed audiences at this year’s festival 


After heavy deliberation by a jury packed with experts, the results are in. The winner of this year’s Iris Prize is… Scaring Women At Night! Directed by Karimah Zakia Issa, this short film wowed the jury with its portrayal of two strangers who are scared on a late-night walk home. Supported by The Michael Bishop Foundation, this win will mean that Karimah Zakia Issa will take home the £30,000 prize to make a new short film in Wales. 

Fearing for their safety in different ways, Scaring Women At Night subverts your expectations of the short film. From its title you may assume you know the contents, and yet its dive into the complex issues of gender, safety, and being a Black trans man. 

Another big win for the night was F**KED directed by Sara Harrak which took home the Iris Prize Best British Short sponsored by Film4 and Pinewood Studios. 

Berwyn Rowlands, Iris Prize Festival Director, said: “I am thrilled that both winners of our ‘big’ prizes are wonderful examples of great storytelling. They deal with subjects that may not be the easiest to handle but need to be told and told in a way that makes us sit up and listen. At Iris, we have always appreciated good storytelling, and I am delighted that we can celebrate just this tonight.”

“Scaring Women at Night is the first Canadian film to win, and was nominated by Inside Out Toronto, who have been nominating films since the first edition of Iris. It gives a snapshot of a unique perspective that isn’t often discussed. Gender roles and stereotypes as well as male privilege and identity are tackled head-on. And of course, there is a twist in the tale.”

“It is refreshing that we have two female winners this year. F**KED is a female-driven story which I am excited to say explores female sexual desire, bringing this lust and base need out of the shadows.”

A highly commended film highlighted by the jury at this year’s Iris Prize was Nathan Faggan and Luke Daly’s film Mud Queen which focused on the complicated relationships between sons and mothers. 

Another highly commended piece was Maissa Lihedeb’s exploration of race in Germany in Hunderfreund (Dogfriend). Telling the story of Malik, a Black queer man, meeting a white man for a date, the film takes you down an unexpected turn to unpack the reality of the complexities of race in Germany. 

Iris Prize will return next year: Tuesday 8 October – Sunday 13 October 2024, and will be online until the end of October.

Full details about the Iris Prize and this year’s winners can be found here: www.irisprize.org

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