LUMI Reviews: Best of Iris 2023

21 February 2024

LUMI Programmers Leeza Isaeva and Katherine Harris review four short films from the Best of Iris Prize 2023 showcase.

LUMI Reviews Best of Iris 2023

Realness with a Twist 

The film is about one man's balancing act between his love of football and his love of voguing. Torn between what seems like two completely different worlds, he struggles with considering his future in the sport. When an important opportunity opens up, he has to consider what the sport and his safety means to him. 

This multifaceted look at someone who seems in two worlds is such an important reminder of the complexity of humans. Jay, our main character, has an inherent ‘flow’ about him, his moves throughout the film are captivating, he has a movement that makes him incredible at not only vogueing, but also incredible at football. It’s outside the game that makes him worried, the ever-present, looming threat of homophobia causing not only a fellow teammate's hospital admittance, but a flash to the possibility of his too. This is the reality that so many queer people can relate too, I mean, you only have to look to Ted Lasso to see similar themes of the homophobia and lack of representation in football, or look to the lack of queer people in both the Premier League and World Cup to see how these ‘sides’ seems a million miles away. 

This film was both visually incredible and featured an incredible soundtrack, while also being both hopeful and heartbreaking. We are rooting for Jay, for his future in United, and yet nervous for him, for his decision to ‘express himself’ so authentically in a way that might be detrimental for his safety. 




How do you open up a queer relationship? What about if your loving wife, who you believe to be a lesbian, starts talking about sleeping with men? And as you discuss this in the middle of a weekly shop, a woman is trying to get around you to the sliced meats?

These are the questions asked by F**KED, a short film by Sara Harrak that is equal parts comic and provocative. In its five-minute runtime, Harrak encapsulates one aspect of the queer zeitgeist – debates over ethical non-monogamy in Hackney Central. F**KED is sharply edited and tightly written, and an altogether satisfying snippet of queer life and how relationships grow and transform over a life, without taking itself too seriously.



Ted and Noel

Whilst anniversaries of the 1970s LGBT rights movement are commemorated, the lives of its protagonists continue to unfold. Ted Brown –- an original organiser of the first UK Pride march in 1972 – digs and plants in the garden started with Noel Glynn, his partner. Noel died in late 2021 and faced homophobic violence from staff at his care home, and Ted has continued his work: planting the bulbs in the garden, and campaigning for queer liberation within care homes.

Ted and Noel explores Ted and Noel’s past and present activism against both racism and homophobia, the state of homophobia and transphobia in social care, and pays tribute to a life partnership spanning fifty years. Historical footage is intermingled with home videos and photographs from Ted and Noel’s life, as well as meetings between Ted and his counsellor and a younger generation of queer activists. This points towards an overlooked intersection between queer liberation and the UK’s crisis of social care, particularly as those involved in the 1970s LGBT rights movements require age and require care.

Ultimately, the way that Ted’s love persists through grief is at the core of this documentary. It allows for the deeply personal within the political, giving Ted space to consider his contradictory feelings about continuing activism whilst grieving. Both beautifully made and vitally important, Ted and Noel is an essential watch.



Scaring Women at Night 

Under the cover of night similarities and differences both come to light in this short film that emphasises one man’s experiences post-transitioning. 

We follow Ash, a trans man, as he unwittingly follows a woman, each turn they take exploring the consequences of change and of the complexities and nuances of lived experiences. They are both together headed the same way, however through interactions and misunderstanding it becomes clear they aren't on the same page, the woman feeling more and more terrified despite Ash's ill rehearsed protests. 

The visuals and sounds make a great compliment to this experience, the quickest flashes of crime scenes or noises making our heart beat. This reflection of our emotions echo onto the characters and we see Ash having to make decisions he hasn’t had to consider before, to make new routines to combat the masculine ‘threat’ he has become, to be considered in a way that is both incredibly euphoric and yet burdening.