Heather Small is confirmed as new Patron for the Iris Prize

Organisers of the Cardiff based Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival are delighted to confirm the appointment of Heather Small as a patron of the organisation.

The world-famous soul singer achieved huge success in the 90s with the group M People, selling over 10 million albums worldwide, before embarking on a solo career, with hits including Proud. Heather has been a supporter of the Iris Prize for many years, performing during the festival’s awards show in 2017 and returning in 2018 as a member of the International Jury.

Heather Small, Singer and Iris Patron commented:

There are certain things you do that put joy in your heart and make you smile from the inside out: that, for me, is the Iris Prize.

“I have to say, it feels amazing. I am truly committed to the Iris Prize and I am truly committed to my new role. I want to bring something a little extra that is part of me, in the sense of more people hearing about the Iris Prize and more people seeing those films. They definitely have to be seen. These stories have to be told.”

Berwyn Rowlands, Director and Founder of the Iris Prize commented: 

I’ve always been a massive fan of Heather and I’m happy to admit I was a little starstruck when she agreed to support Iris by performing at the awards show. They say “don’t meet your heroes”, but I’m glad I did!

 “She was amazing and a very popular jury member who took the job seriously. She took an active part in the decision-making process which awards one film maker with the £30,000 Iris Prize — still the world’s largest single prize for a short film.

 “What’s super cool about Heather is she’s got the gift of reaching out to people. There was a lovely incident in a Cardiff restaurant during the 2018 festival. It was late and the jury were tired having been watching and discussing films all day. Heather had other ideas, suddenly she befriended the guy who had been entertaining the diners with his guitar. Next thing, they were singing Stand By Me together. It was one of those magic moments, which happen often when you are in the company of this special person.”

Andrew Pierce, Festival Chair, commented:

You just know when somebody is genuine and interested in your work. Heather has been unbelievably generous with her time supporting Iris and our work in sharing LGBT+ stories to as wide an audience as possible.

“In our 15th anniversary year we are in a strong position to take Iris to another level. Unexpectedly we reached audiences in the 80,000 in 2020 as we took Iris online. I’m sure with Heather joining us formally as a patron we should be able to sustain those numbers in 2021 and I hope increase them.”

“There are a lot of unknowns about how 2021 will pan out, primarily because of the continued impact of the pandemic. But I am reassured that with Heather joining our other patrons, including Lord Glendonbrook, Christopher Racster, Sara Sugarman, Katie White and myself, we have enough stability to see our work continue and increase in impact as we share more LGBT+ stories with new audiences.”

To celebrate her appointment as an Iris Prize patron, Heather appears on the cover of DIVA Magazine (February 2021), which also features a full 7-page interview between Heather and DIVA publisher Linda Riley. The following is a small extract from the interview:  

This year Iris celebrates its 15th anniversary. Why do you think it’s been such a success? 

I think it’s the passion, dedication and commitment of all involved – Berwyn Rowlands, festival director and his team. I’ve met them several times over the years. It was so wonderful that even with Covid they made it work and involved more people than ever before.”

“There’s no incentive like being told “no” to make you turn it into a “yes”. I understand that more than a lot of people. When you belong to the LGBTQI community, when you belong to the Black Lives Matter movement, you understand being marginalised, you understand people telling you “no”. The word “no” followed me around like a bad odour in my youth. Somebody saying, “It’s going to be a challenge”, “It’s going to be difficult”, “It’s going to be hard”. All that does is fuel your ambition and you press forward.”

The full story in Diva is available here.

The main festival sponsors are: The Michael Bishop Foundation, Welsh Government, the BFI awarding funds from The National Lottery, Ffilm Cymru Wales, Film 4, University of South Wales, Co-op Respect, Bad Wolf, Gorilla Group, Peccadillo Pictures, Pinewood Studios, Attitude Magazine, Diva Magazine and The Ministry of Sound. 

The festival also works in partnership with BAFTA Cymru, Pride Cymru and Stonewall Cymru. 

For press enquiries and further information, please contact

Mobile: +44 (0) 7970 818294    Email: Berwyn@irisprize.org 
Website: www.irisprize.org        Twitter: @irisprize, @BerwynR

The Iris Prize
The largest LGBT+ short film prize in the world is supported by The Michael Bishop Foundation. £30,000 is available to the winner to make a new LGBT+ themed film in the UK. In 2020, for the 5th time, Iris was identified as one of the “top 50 film festivals worth the entry fee” by Movie Maker Magazine. In 2017 the festival was promoted by BAFTA to A-list festival status, alongside Cannes and Sundance, by officially being recognised as a qualifying festival for the BAFTA awards.

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