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Iris Prize Festival 4th Iris Prize Festival
The 30 shorts in competition for the Iris Prize. Cardiff, 4-9.Oct.10 (page 2 of 4)
Brotherlove   3.5/5   Bruderliebe
dir-scr Marcus Schwenzel
with Thorsten Feller, Anthony Gorin, Levy Meaden
09/Czech 16m
day and night
Brotherlove Almost like a gay fantasy, this subtle little drama starts out following a young man on a business trip where he flirts with the receptionist at his hotel then is a bit surprised when he climbs into his bed later that night. But this sparks a painful memory of a series of events involving the man and his brother, which have left him wracked with guilt. Hints of violence and suicide make these scenes feel deeply unsettling as we vividly feel this young man's inner turmoil. Even though it feels a little pretentious, the film has a quiet, introspective tone that suggests all sorts of possibilities. And the dreamlike flashbacks are hauntingly evocative, shot with poetic cinematography, including a stunning underwater sequence.
A Word   4/5
dir-scr Yoav Inbar
10/Israel 19m
A Word
A Word The word in question is "love", and the film centres on Ron, who realises that he simply can't say it to his boyfriend Tal, who throws him out of bed as a result. From here Ron struggles to come to terms with his own feelings, confiding in his friend Shir, who has just split from her boyfriend, while trying to define the meaning of "true love". He also meets Erez, a sunbathing hunk in an open relationship. The final sequence is a breathtaking long take in which Ron tries to reconnect with Tal. This is a fiercely clever film that depicts relaxed intimacy with real honesty. It's sexy, funny and provocatively introspective. Filmmaker Inbar draws rough, natural performances from his superb cast that really make us engage with them and think through the issues on our own.
Broken Hart   3/5  
dir-scr Michael Allen Angel
with Zak Barnett, Gerald Downey, Cathy Lind Hayes, Joel Lambert, Adam Prout, Hannah Cosgrove
09/US 25m
downey and barnett
broken hart Shot in the style of a silent movie, this romantic comedy centres on the usually cheerful Hart (Barnett) whose happy morning routine is derailed by the realisation that it's Valentine's Day and he's single. Through a series of scenes, he meets his mother (Hayes) and various people in the street, all of whom are in the throes of love. Filmmaker Angel tries to pack a little too much into this film, which begins to feel rather indulgent as it goes through one scenario after another. But it's very well made, with a cheeky tone that makes the most of the sharp visual approach and terrific ragtime score. All of the characters are lively and funny, their sassy dialog delivered by title cards of course. In the end it's predictable and simple. And sweet enough to be a crowdpleaser.
Cakes in the Sand   4.5/5   Torten im Sand
dir-scr Christoph Scheermann
with Jan Andreesen, Bartholomew Sammut
10/Ger 15m
sammut and andreesen
Cakes in the Sand Scruffy and truthful, this complex exploration of a wobbly relationship is powerfully moving. It centres on Julian and Tim, a lively couple that has been together for awhile and has a realistically relaxed life. There's enough history here for them to have private jokes and intimate memories, and they can also joke with each other even in the middle of difficult conversations. But as both prepare to reignite their romantic passion, crossed wires threaten to undo everything. The film is assembled as a collage of scenes darting around through the relationship then homing in on a critical moment that forces them to really think about their future. It's superbly shot and edited, with an especially strong use of colour and physicality, suggestive dialog and raw honesty. "We once said our relationship isn't based on sex," one of them says. "But who decides when the sex dies?" In other words, this isn't a specifically gay story, and the closing scene will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like their relationship was simply evaporating before their eyes.
Remember Me in Red   3/5
dir-scr Hector Ceballos
with Mariana Marroquin, Kenya Kenya, Maria Roman, Angel Zermen, Tina D'Marco, Mario Z
10/US 15m
Remember Me in Red
Remember Me in Red Simple and warm, this short touches on segments of society that are rarely represented on screen - mixing the Hispanic's narrow view of sexuality with a story about transvestites. The film centres on Fidelia (Marroquin), who's grieving the death of her best friend Alma Flora (Roman in flashbacks). But Fidelia and her friends (Zerman and Linda) are unable to participate in planning the funeral due to Alma Flora's parents (DiMarco and Z), who refuse to accept her as anything but their son. The film is a cry for respect in a community that often seems resolutely close-minded, and filmmaker Ceballos keeps the tone dark and emotional from the start. Sometimes this makes it a bit maudlin, but this is balanced by some warm drama and reflective moments along the way. Most significant is the way the film acknowledges that respect goes two ways, so Fidelia has to also find a way to honour the feelings of Alma Flora's parents.
The Queen   4.5/5
dir-scr Christina Choe
with Sean G Tarjyoto, Erika Helen Smith, Tamir Kapelian, Kay Choe
10/US 7m
The Queen This is a near-perfect little film, sharply capturing the hopes and dreams of its central character before a very funny final gag. It centres on nerdy Korean teen Bobby (Tarjyoto), who works in the family dry-cleaners. When his mother (Choe) leaves him on his own to close up shop, he lets an obnoxious customer (Smith) in at the last moment, but only because she's accompanied by her hot boyfriend (Kapelian). While the boys exchange glances, she launches into a hilarious tirade about how she has to have her dress cleaned because she's a shoo-in for prom queen. This sends Bobby into a fantasy world in which he imagines himself dancing through the night with the girl's boyfriend. Filmmaker Choe creates a terrifically catty atmosphere, with sardonic humour that shifts into a full-on disco fantasia to the telling tune of Pat Benatar's We Belong. It's simple, cute and amusing, allowing the serious themes to quietly swirl underneath. And the punchline is superb.
Disarm 2.5/5  
dir Nathan Keene
scr Nathan Keene, Will Faulkner
with David Ryan Kinsman, Taris Tyler
09/Australia 17m
tyler and kinsman
Disarm The tables constantly turn in this somewhat obvious little film, which is nicely made but never makes the most of its situation or characters. At the start, an arrogant muscled businessman (Tyler) lets a skinny rent boy (Kinsman) into his hotel room. After a brief flurry of physicality, they start talking about their sex lives, the role of porn and life ambitions. It emerges that the businessman was once an escort as well, while the younger guy feels cocky and invincible. There are some serious issues on the table here, from male bravado to the difference between being gay or straight acting. But filmmaker Keene never does anything visually at all, merely maintaining static one-shots through the entire conversation. This eliminates all intimacy and makes the older guy's lowering of his guard feel rather contrived. It also makes it difficult to care, especially as the final scene is rather too obvious.
Tools 4 Fools   2.5/5  
dir Kate Brandt
scr Kate Brandt, Leslie Lange
with Allie Rivenbark, Brigette Rouletgregg, Alana DiMaria, Danny Hill, Julie Goldman, Alexandra LeMosle
09/US 8m
rivenbark and friends
tools 4 fools Shot like a garish infomercial, this wacky short just about rustles up a smile as it plays on every lesbian joke imaginable but completely misses the chance for some knowing satire. The company is Dildoland, which offers discerning women the chance to buy, sell and trade sex toys. This is hosted by Rivenbark in a lively, silly style, with testimonials from satisfied customers and a tour of the factory where second-hand items are refurbished, complete with a shaman (Hill) to make sure they have good karma. The result is merrily rude and sometimes amusing, but it's never very funny because it wallows in stereotypes without ever trying to subvert them. Which is kind of odd for a satire like this. Not to mention the fact that the real humour in this idea is in the thought of straight couples or gay men participating in this process.


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