IrisPrize 2019: The Winners...


BLACK HAT, a drama set within LA’s Hasidic community and directed by Sarah Smith, wins the £30,000 prize for an international LGBT+ short film

Teen trans drama MY BROTHER IS A MERMAID, directed by Alfie Dale, wins the awards for Best British Short and the Audience and Youth Awards.

Winner announced by Queer as Folk/Years and Years writer Russell T Davies

Black Hat, directed by US director Sarah Smith, has been announced as the winner of Cardiff’s annual international LGBT+ short film award, the Iris Prize. Her film tells the story of a closeted Hasidic Jewish man living in Los Angeles and was a second nomination for Sarah and producer and writer Philip Guttman, who were shortlisted for their comedy D. Asian in 2015. She is the fourth woman to win the prize.

The £30,000 prize, supported by The Michael Bishop Foundation, allows Sarah to make another short film here in the UK. Eleven films have been produced by Iris Prize winners to date, the first being Colonial Godsfrom Academy Award-nominated writer and director Dee Rees (Mudbound).

My Brother Is A MermaidThe winner of the Best British award, sponsored by Pinewood Studios, is My Brother is a Mermaid; a magic-realist story about a trans teen living in a dilapidated seaside community. The film, directed by Alfie Dale, was also the winner of both Cardiff University’s Iris Prize Youth Award and the Buzz Magazine Audience Award.

And Then We DancedBest Feature went to And then We Danceda romantic drama set in a prestigious Georgian dance academy, with special mentions going to UK director Hong Khaou’s film Monsoon and the documentary Changing the Game.

Best Performance in a Male Role went to Monsoon’s star Henry Golding(Crazy Rich Asians, A Simple Favor), with Best Performance in a Female Role being won by Linda Caridi from the Italian comedy Mom + Mom (Mamma + Mamma).

The awards took place during the Iris Carnival at Cardiff’s Tramshed, with live music from BLɅCKƎLVIS, a “food village” supplied by Co-Op.

The winner of the Iris Prize was announced by writer and producer Russell T Davies (Queer as Folk, Doctor Who, Years and Years).

“Visually stunning… a perfectly crafted and concise work of art”

Speaking of Black HatInternational Jury chair Jake Graf said, “It shone a light on an often unseen community in a sensitive, tender and positive way, without casting judgement. We found the lead charming and likeable, the film visually stunning, and responded well to this perfectly crafted and concise work of art. Accomplished, enjoyable and captivating.”

In an event on Saturday, Black Hat was announced as one of three films in the final running for the Iris Prize, the other films being Ponyboi, directed by and starring intersex actor River Gallo, and Marguerite, directed by Marianne Farley, which was previously nominated for an Academy Award.

Marguerite elicited an unprecedented emotional response from our jury,” said Graf, “with many of us in floods of tears. Not only did it depict an underrepresented section of our community, but it did so with subtlety, empathy and charm.”

Speaking of Ponyboi he added that it was, “Original and dreamlike… a visual feast. The lead performances were as strong as the cinematography. Fresh, original filmmaking.”