Iris Prize Film Festival 2009
I’m a meat eater.
Now, I know the question on your mind right now is probably -
“Did you really have to go all the way to the United Kingdom to figure this out about yourself?!”
No, no I didn’t. I’ve been eating meat my whole life. And sucking dick for, oh I don’t know – about 7 years now? I’m well aware of my sheer affinity for M E A T.
But it took my immersion in a foreign culture and their cuisine to realize just how protein driven the American Diet is. The food in the UK was mostly carb based. Pasta. Potatoes. Chips!
Why am I telling you this? Literally the only complaint I have for the whole trip, my time and experiences there is the difference in food. It took some adjustment and yeah, I dropped a little weight not being able to adequately feed my growing-boy muscles, but hey, that’s ok. I’d say it was all worth it. I like meat. I eat meat. I am not ashamed. But now I know I also like the UK, and maybe even perhaps: The United Kingdom likes me?!
I was so sure I had run out of luck before even arriving in Cardiff. First, I was supposed to fly out Monday. But I had it in my mind I was flying out Tuesday. I was busy tying up loose ends Monday, filming intros and making hurried effort not to leave the States without finishing some time important projects. I figured my flight itinerary would be in my e-mail inbox waiting for me when I packed and went to board my plane Tuesday morning. But late Monday night while packing and preparing I came to discover that my itinerary was definitely, without a doubt, nowhere to be found anywhere in my inbox. I started to panic! It was too late to call my manager, and I couldn’t even remember what airline I was supposed to fly out on.
Early Tuesday morning it was all sorted out. Monday my flight, but some genius stroke of luck, had been pushed to Tuesday afternoon. So I hurried on to Los Angeles to catch a Virgin Atlantic flight at 3:45 PM. Took us three loops around the LAX airport before we found the entrance to the Virgin Terminal. The check-in line was impossibly long and I ended up missing yet another flight. Somehow, by the grace of one very gay friendly God, I managed to get on the following flight.
After arriving in London 10 hours later, I met Simon, my liaison from Peccadillo Pictures to take a train two hours out to Cardiff, Wales. Upon exiting the train, I somehow, I don’t know for sure how, I managed to forget 200 Pounds cash, my laptop and passport on board. Simon achieved the single greatest sprint in cigarette smoker’s history and secured my forgotten articles before the train could take them away from me for, presumably, forever.
The Iris Prize Festival was primarily made up of the director’s and filmmakers (a few actors, but less than half a dozen) that were sharing their work. It was not immensely large; yet it was big enough and there were enough in attendance that in no way was there a shortage of good conversation. Everyone was constructive and inquisitive about the films being screened. The Iris Prize Film Festival was made up of 3 or 4 days of short film viewings. Six to nine shorts in a set would run and then the group would take a meal break and talk openly about their favorites, their observations, etc. Then at the tail end of the festival 6 or so feature films were exhibited.
For me, this was sort of like a crash course in grassroots international independent film. The selection was thought-provoking and refreshingly eclectic. Nothing seemed out of place and the only discernible pattern was the apparent consideration that Iris Prize chose the spice of Variety.
I have always had a particularly difficult time picking a favorite film. I love movies; I enjoy all different kinds of films for all different kinds of reasons. Naturally there were many that stood out in my mind while attending the festival. I must say, I was present and accounted for for just about every screening. Some things I had to miss because I had to eat. Or Sleep. Or simply put; I just couldn’t sit on my ass any longer.
Here are some of my favorites from the week – - -
DISH by Brian Harris Krinsky (<< click to follow link) :
Living in Southern California and having come to “sexual maturity” at a young age, DISH spoke to me. DISH is about two young Hispanic Emo/Scenster boys living in Los Angeles. The film follows them as they talk about sex and explore what it means to them and those around them. On the surface and at first glance, someone watching this film might miss the message. Initially I know I was not as drawn to it myself having seen boys like this out in Los Angeles, witnessing first hand how petty and superficial they can be. The end of the film surprises you and gives you a tinge of positive energy with the thought that there is hope for future gay generations yet.
The director of this film is Portuguese but I believe it was filmed in Germany. It’s about an old man and his eccentricities. He carries out a strained yet torrid relationship with a sexy, much younger guy. I was moved by this film because, yet again, it takes a twist that was completely unexpected. This one definitely made me rethink my relationship with those individuals with deep coursing foot fetishes. Beautifully shot, this film will remain with you.
NON LOVE SONG by Erik Gernard:
On the last day of summer before heading to college, two 18-year old best friends attempt to connect as adults and for the first time in their lives share a real moment. This was an 8 minute short presented in black and white. You get a sense that one of the two best friends is gay; he may or may not be “out”. The question of sexuality isn’t a resounding theme in this. It’s about two young men who are close and have known each other forever. It was heartwarming to see a close relationship between to guys that wasn’t fixated on the topic of sex or the possibility of sex.
Maria Breaux and her partner were in attendance at the festival. Both were exceptionally conversational toward me and I found their presence comforting and warm. It was a pleasure to talk with them both about our individual views on the different shorts. Throughout this festival I maintained an open mind to the Lesbian made films. I found them to profound and far more noteworthy than initially I might have thought. Lucha is set in 1982 against the backdrop of the insurgency in El Salvador. Lucha traces the plight of two women in love whose only respite from the battles raging against their oppressive government is the solace found in each other’s arms. I found this film intriguing because it was a personal story about how real people are affected by meddlesome US agendas – something, being American myself, we are not often afforded the luxury of seeing for ourselves.
Set in 1986, the year I was born. A young girl dances on the fringes of popularity and acceptance as she struggles just to make friends and maintain relationships with her classmates. This film, for me, was absolutely adorable and highly entertaining. I think all of us as people can remember a time when all we wanted was to be liked and to make friends; to fit in. The film reminds all of us just how impossible this simple prospect can prove to be for young people as they work to define themselves and their personal role in this vast and complex world of ours.
TO COMFORT YOU by Marc Saltarelli:
This film was the first time the festival brought me to tears. Ok! So I’m a crier. But at least I’m in touch with my feelings and I’m not too serious or prideful not to let them fly from within me. To Comfort You is about a concerned mother who goes through the motions of her day just waiting and wanting to share her love with her daughter whom is personally going through major life changes. What moved me about this film was the lengths the mother goes to just to be nurturing and caring without being smothering. Maybe it’s the relationship that I have or had with my own mother that makes this one tug at my heartstrings, but I’m not about to try and find out. It’s just a beautiful film about two people who love and care for one another while working through a particularly rough time.
AFTER by Mark Paraselli:
Three teenage boys idealize and fantasize about an older teenage football player in a humorous and dark coming of age film dealing with sexual awakening, friendship and death. Easily the most breathtaking and visually aesthetic film of the whole festival, Mark is a young filmmaker from Toronto. This is a silent film but there is no lack of communication in any way despite this simple fact.
I found it innocent and enjoyed the juxtaposition of all the three boys who take their turns internally visualizing their experiences with the object of their desire. I know Mark will go on to be a strong, noteworthy filmmaker.
Kaleem Kahn is a young, London based film maker. Diana takes place the day after the Princess of Wales’ death and follows Mohit, and Indian pre-op transsexual on an emotional journey set against the backdrop of a day that shocked a nation and will change his life forever. I’m extremely fascinated with the emotional plight that transsexuals go through in their journey to become comfortable with themselves. I believe in so many ways the rest of the world cannot even begin to understand what it is like for someone to toil with not only, what usually is, a struggle to define not only sexuality but identity and then the of course: gender. Respectively, Diana was awarded the Screen Academy for Best UK Short at the Iris Film Festival 2009.
Moving between anxiety, reflection and fear, two strangers try to make sense of their predicament . . . stuck in a steam room. Heat increasing, they need to get out but they can’t find the door. What is this place and how did they get there?! Steam stands among my favorites from the film because it possesses a firm grasp of creativity and surrealism. At first I struggled to watch it because I expected it to be just another film about two gay men having sex in a Bathhouse somewhere. But it quickly become something more; providing what could be seen as a politically motivated spin on the plot. Or is it just a twist designed to open your mind? Ambiguous yet structured.
It’s not hard to understand why Steam and Eldar Rapaport took home the 2009 Iris Prize. Rapaport is originally from Israel but is a resident of Los Angeles these days. I mean, HelL-A.
About half a dozen feature films were screened at the festival:
I’d watched The Big Gay Musical prior to watching it out at the Festival, but I chose to sit through it a second time. The contrast between the campiness of the Off-Broadway Musical portions of the film and the situational drama of the actors’ does help to offset the sense of seriousness within this film. Like a many films out of New York, this story chronicles the lives of people living, working and just working to live day in and day out; their trials and tribulations. I also came to tears at the end of this film. Is it wrong that I can’t remember exactly why? It’s moving. Simply put. In my opinion, I think this is a great movie.
Although I wouldn’t say it’s a “sore subject” for me, I have been quietly refraining from promoting this film. My one scene was filmed the very last day of several upon several days of shooting for the cast and crew. The camera crew began “breaking down” their equipment before a Grip on set asked, from the very back of the room, if they intended to get my “close up” shots or not. It was extremely hurried, and in my opinion, it shows. Ok, and from an ego standpoint . . . quite honestly I do hold issue with two angles that were used in my close ups. So, to avoid saying I don’t like the way I “look” in the film, I’ve just avoided an opinion altogether on the film. Truthfully – see the film for the good film it is. Don’t blink when you watch it, because blink twice and you’ll miss me. Then again, blink all you want. Don’t see it because I’m kind of in it.
HOLLYWOOD JE T’AIME was written and directed by Jason Bushman.
A highly entertaining, predominately lighthearted film that follows a French actor as he embarks on a journey to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams of becoming an actor. The casting, character development and production quality of this film are all major strong suites. Out of all of the films I find this film to be broadly palatable for the general community. I thoroughly enjoyed myself watching it and I fell in love with all the characters. While it does have serious themes and subjects throughout, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
If you get a chance to see this in the theatres or pick up a copy online, you will not be disappointed. I will be buying one for my collection. Jason Bushman is very talented and I know you will be seeing some great things from this director. He was also very well-receiving of me. I guess at one point he came this close to casting me in a small part, but was persuaded to avoid me. It’s ok, I don’t take it personally Jason. I’m used to that sort of thing by now. Hopefully, by now, you know I’m not the poor investment others might have led you to believe I am.
Donne-moi la main (Give Me Your Hand) by Pascal-Alex Vincent
A pair of twin brothers set out through France and Spain to attend their estranged mother’s funeral. Their background is vague to begin with and their relationship is intense. As they meet various characters along the way, attractions and rivalries erupt, leading to a sometimes erotic tension. While one of the brothers gravitates toward the company of women, the other brother falls for a young male migrant farmer.
This film is closely based on a real-life journey to the two twins took together. While the two boys are not actors nor, we are told, do they have any desire to become actors, they smolder and effectively convey their emotions. Mostly silent, this film takes some time to pick up in pace. About a third of the way into the feature you begin to understand why we are following these two on their journey together (aside from the fact that they are both insanely beautiful).
Admittedly, the non-situational drama style type that is so often found in French Films is usually “above me”. I don’t need a thriller or rampant sex. However, for whatever reason I miss the message French film makers are trying to send me and I find myself bored and wondering why I care in the first place about the characters in the film. Clearly, this is not the case with Take My Hand. Even when the film slows and seems to draw out, it is beautiful and substantial to sit and try and figure out these two complex characters and how they regard each other. Forget everything you know about Twins and their connections; it does not apply here – and no, they do not have sex so get your mind out of the gutter.
Redwoods by David Lewis won the Iris Prize Best Feature Award. Unfortunately, this was one of the few screenings I missed. Not to fear, I will be getting a copy and I will certainly play catch up.
It “chronicles Everett, whom is in a solid but non-passionate relationship with his partner, Miles. Most of their love and attention is focused on Billy, a boy with learning difficulties. Shortly after Miles takes Billy to spend some time with their grandparents, Everett meets Chase (played by Matthew Montgomery), a writer searching for inspiration in the Redwoods Country. They quickly become friends and eventually become lovers. This hopelessly romantic and ultimately sad film explores how we deal with falling love when we are already in love.”
Matthew Montgomery, one of the stars of the film, is an absolute sweetheart and I regret not taking more time to speak with him. We didn’t exchange words until the very last night of the festival, when the whole group was out in the pub celebrating an amazing week.
The Iris Prize Festival was a whirlwind. Non stop screenings, parties, dinner and commitments and yet, I still had to move on to London.
Festival Attendees seemed to enjoy In the Closet, but I didn’t push for feedback and constructive criticism. There was a lot of interest and I got the sense that it was one that no one wanted to miss. I guess they were intrigued as to whether or not I would be good in it. It is what it is. It’s fun, eery and not too serious. I think people found it it to be a nice oasis. There were 29 short films and easily 15 of them were heavy and profound.
I am eternally indebted to Peccadillo Pictures (but happily so!), a London-based distribution company that was my host and sponsor. They made my trip possible. Peccadillo picked up “In the Closet” by Jody Wheeler and Doorq.com for UK distribution and put it into a LOVELY DVD compilation of short films. To watch the trailer for the compilation and place an order go here: Boys on Film 3: American Boy. Then, they presented me with the honor of gracing the cover. I urge you to pick up your copy of this compilation. DISH by Brian Harris Krinsky, a selection of the festival, is also a part of this DVD. This is the best way to get a copy of this short. If you haven’t seen me in it yet, this is the best way to do so. The other shorts are worth it as well. I vouch for the company as a reputable venue to place an order. Very trustworthy and very ethical.
I guess I made an impression at the festival because I was asked to present the award for the Screen Academy for Best UK Short to Aleem Khan and Neeraj Singh Diana (who managed an exquisitely complex portrayal of his character). At the closing evening ceremonies I was asked by the Festival Organizer to return in 2010 and take part as a Jury Member. The Jury deliberates and decides on the winners of the festival. Cardiff’s International Gay and Lesbian Short Film Prize is valued at £25,000. It is one of the biggest prizes to be sanctioned on the film festival circuit. To look at pictures from the events, go to The Iris Prize Festival Website.
Cardiff was beautiful and quaint. There was a castle outside of my hotel across the street. We walked everywhere we needed to get it to. The weather was a lot like Seattle where I grew up and I enjoyed it very much. I was actually very warm much of the time despite a little drizzle and overcast. I was sweating bullets most days and couldn’t wear my sweaters I had packed.
Most nights we all went out and partied together as a group after the festival ended for the evening. We were a tight-knit group and conversation flowed almost as freely as the wine. I would pour into bed at 3-4 AM almost each morning. Jet Lag didn’t hit me until my return trip home.
Get this, though. On the third night of the festival and my stay in Cardiff, I fall into bed at 4 AM and I went to sleep so quickly I don’t even remember being in bed. What felt like hours later, but in actuality was only 5 AM, the fire alarm goes off in my room. I get up, naked as the day I came into this world, stumbling around me room looking for the source of the noise. It mind as well have been the bloody apocalypse because it certainly sounded like the world was coming to an end! I make a quick decision on which clothes to wear out, thinking . . . “Ok, pick something that’s nice enough that if you have to wear it for the rest of your stay in the UK it won’t be sooo bad!” Simon, my liaison from Peccadillo Pictures came knocking on my door right away. Of course, I had to scrape and scrub the white zit cream off my face before I could even think about opening the door – All this I’m managing in the span of 2 minutes before moving to the outside of my room.
Simon, of course knows it’s a false alarm. But where I’m from, we get out of the building when an alarm like that goes off. If the building blows up or you die of smoke inhalation it’s one of the most ignoble deaths – especially if you go back to bed and ignore the sirens. And then of course, I’ve never been in a hotel when the alarms when off by accident.
250 other guests (about half of the guests staying in the hotel, really) and I hit the pavement in front of the building. Naturally, most of the Festival Attendees are there and I’m hiding form them. No, I didn’t manage to get ALL of the acne cream off of my face before running screaming from the building like a crazy American, so I was avoiding people I knew. The Fire Department is in and out in 20 minutes. It’s a false alarm. Someone was smoking in their room and they shouldn’t have been. Damn. Well I guess you can never be too cautious. And if the building had been on fire, at least I would have lived. Even if I would have had to wear the same pair of pants for a week before finally returning home to The States.
Before the end of the trip, I was befriended by a young Welsh Boy named Osian (pronounced OH-SHAWN, or OH-SEAN if you will. Kinda funny how life does that to you). He was extremely sweet and good-natured. I was lucky to meet a local such as him and make such a nice connection. I was also fortunate to befriend a Member of Parliament. He’s out and everything, but to be safe I’ll avoid publishing his name. Upon hearing about my obsession with horses he offered to take me out to the Welsh countryside to go horseback riding on one of his aunt’s horses. Osian, the MP and I took a nice trip the day after the festival ended and I got to ride. I got my fix! And rightfully so because I was beginning to go through withdraws. Sorry I don’t have pictures to share of my riding outing. But here’s one of Osian, me and Daniel Robinson at the pub the last night of the festival. Osian is wearing the funny 3D movie glasses. Daniel Robinson you’ll recognize from blog entries of last November and my New York trip therein. He is the star of The Big Gay Musical; also one of the sweetest people I have ever had the pleasure of spending time around:
Cardiff gave way to 5 days of press, interviews, pictures and a quick experience of London. But that’s another day, another story and another blog entry. This was already way too much to digest, so tomorrow I will begin compiling and writing that post. This took me all day! Hopefully you didn’t just skip it due to the lack of nude content.
Your Friend and Lover,
The New Brent Corrigan