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Iris Prize LGBTQ+ Film Festival partners with DIVA Magazine for new festival

"The special partnership with Iris is a perfect way to package, promote and play films for, about, and by queer women and non-binary people"

By Alastair James

Iris x Diva
(Image: Provided)

Organisers of the Iris Prize LGBTQ+ Film Festival are partnering with DIVA Magazine for a new film festival.

The DIVA Film Festival will take place during Lesbian Visibility Week (24-28 April) and will celebrate queer cinema featuring queer female and non-binary content from the UK and beyond. The Festival will take place at the Garden Cinema in Covent Garden in London.

The director of the DIVA Film Festival Jacquie Lawrence said: “There are very few film festivals in the UK that focus purely on queer female narratives, especially those across the whole LGBTQIA spectrum. The DIVA Film Festival aims to do just that and the special partnership with Iris is a perfect way to package, promote and play films for, about, and by queer women and non-binary people.”

The Iris fellow added: “It is wonderful that we will be screening a couple of features seen at Iris 2023 (Chuck Chuck Baby and Artist Unknown) and two shorts (the Best British short winner F**KED and Jake Graf’s Stone) but it is most pertinent that Some Girls Hate Dresses, made by Mena Fombo, the first recipient of the Iris Prize Documentary Film Finance Fund award, will get its London screening.”

Below is the line-up for the inaugural DIVA Film Festival, in partnership with Iris Prize.

Wednesday 24 April

Life of Riley – Dir. Jacquie Lawrence | UK | 2024 | 90 mins

A candid and intimate film following the eventful life of activist, publisher and creator of diversity awards, Linda Riley. Combining interviews with fly-on-the-wall filming gives an insight into the ‘Head Lesbian of the World’ as she navigates the world of celebrity and politics. 

F**KED (short) – Dir. Sara Harrak | UK | 2023

When Dani tells Jess she might be interested in sleeping with guys again, it doesn’t go down too well. What really are the rules in an open relationship? 

Saturday 27 April

Shorts Programme: Real Talk + Q&A

These short films all centre different aspects of lesbian and queer women’s lives, from the UK, the USA, and India. Ranging from futuristic queer parenting scenarios, to an intimate documentary reflecting on 1990s black British tomboys, all of these films feature real conversations about living one’s life as your true self. 

Unclaimed – Dir. Carolyn Ratteray | USA | 2023

Fiona Devers, a facilities-manager-and-wanna-be-performer, is curious to explore her kinkier side. She brings up the possibility of polyamory to her long-term girlfriend and receives a less than enthusiastic response. 

Places I’ve Called My Own – Dir. Sushma Khadepaun-Parmar | France / India | 2023

Zee returns to India for the funeral of her father, during the middle of an IVF cycle. There she finds her mother is in denial about her sexuality, whilst her ex-girlfriend has rebuilt her life with a man.

Monitor – Dir. Margo Roe | UK | 2023

In an over-populated future, Jenna and Fi must raise a robot ‘baby’ under observation before receiving a licence to start a family. But as this process unravels deep-set tensions between the couple, will they get the result they want, and deserve?

Some Girls Hate Dresses – Dir. Mena Fombo | UK | 2024 

Winner of the Iris Prize Documentary Film Fund, Some Girls Hate Dresses is a nostalgic and evocative look into the lives of Black British tomboys who wore the label with pride in the 1990s.  

Chuck Chuck Baby – Dir. Janis Pugh | UK | 2023 | 101 mins

An ode to female friendship, love, and resilience, Chuck Chuck Baby is intertwined with witty, observant humour and unforgettable spontaneous musical numbers. Set in industrial north Wales, Helen (Louise Brealey) lives with her ex-husband, his 20-year-old girlfriend, their new baby – and his dying mother Gwen. Her life is a grind and is spent mostly at work at the local chicken factory. The monotony of life is upended when Joanne (Annabel Scholey), Helen’s childhood infatuation and former neighbour, comes back to town.

Scorpion Grass (short) – Dir. Jamie Chi | UK | 2023

Yan Yan wishes to bring her girlfriend home during the Lunar New Year, causing shame and anger in her father. Rosario, a migrant from the Philippines, tries to intervene into the heated argument on the street. Not all is as it seems, and this encounter leads to an unlikely friendship and revelations. 

Sunday 28 April

Polarized – Dir. Shamim Sarif | UK / Canada | 2023

Two women from the same town, but from very different worlds. When a white farm worker, Lisa, gets fired for racism by Dalia, her Palestinian boss, there seems to be no going back. Yet it is the start of an unexpected connection between the two. As the pair enjoy a growing friendship and attraction, they must break the barriers of race, class, and religion that have kept them apart, or risk settling for the lives their families have laid out for them.

Artist Unknown – Dir. Cinder Chou | USA | 2023

An art heist playful comedy becomes a queer action rom-com in this witty and fast-paced debut feature from Cinder Chou. Juniper, an insecure martial artist, must find out the origins of a painting after two thieves try to steal it from her. When she meets Penny, another fighter, they become involved in the mystery, and they connect over what they’ve both been hiding inside. Nominated for the Iris Prize 2023 Best Feature, and winner of the Jury Award at the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival 2023.

Stone (short) – Dir. Jake Graf | UK | 2023

When Tess learns of her estranged father’s death, she travels to the funeral hoping for nothing more than some closure. Blindsided by the revelation that her father was a transgender woman, Tess turns to her mother for answers.

The Iris Prize festival is set to return between Tuesday 8 October and Sunday 13 October 2024.