The 10th annual Iris Prize Festival for LGBT short films has opened in Cardiff.

It is the start of five days of celebrating international LGBT filmmaking along with the prestigious competition to win the £30,000 prize.

The festival opened with a wide variety of film premieres, onstage interviews and live performance.

Organiser Berwyn Rowlands said it was important there was a festival that celebrated LGBT films.

“Politically, gay people are in a much better position in the UK than they were 10 years ago,” he told the BBC.

“We can get married, we can adopt children, we have rights in the workplace.

“But I think we are still relatively invisible, and so there are still many stories about gay existence that don’t make it on to mainstream television or cinema.”

This year, 17 countries are represented on the Iris Prize shortlist. Their films tackle issues such as growing old and illnesses, while a number of horror films have also been submitted.

Screenings of BAFTA Cymru-nominated Iris Prize production Spoilers by Brendon McDonall, and When A Man Loves A Woman, which is written by Katie White and directed by Charlie Francis, the 2014 Iris Prize Best British winning team from Scotland, will also be shown. The programme is rounded out with another World Premiere, Afiach, a new Welsh language short written by Bethan Marlow, directed by Carys Lewis and starring West End actress Gillian Elisa (Billy Elliott on stage; TV’s Stella; Gavin and Stacey). It tells the story of a lesbian couple affected by a cancer diagnosis.

“I was very keen to write a lesbian story that was not about the fact that they are lesbians, that it went beyond that,” Marlow said. “I wanted to set it in a very surreal world, but telling a very true story.

“One of the successes of the Iris Prize Festival is that it goes beyond the LGBT community, and hopefully it’s a stepping stone to the rest of the world watching the film. I hope it can cross those boundaries, as it’s a universal story that everybody can relate to.”

Iris Prize

 

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