M People star Heather Small confirmed as new Patron for the Iris Prize

This year's Iris fest takes place from 5-10 October 2021.


Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Provided/M People Records

M People star Heather Small has been revealed as a patron of this year's Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival.

Organisers of the Cardiff-based festival announced the 'Proud' singer's involvement today.

The star - known for hits like 'Search For the Hero' and 'One Night In Heaven' - has said it "feels amazing" to be on board.

" I am truly committed to the Iris Prize"

Heather said in a statement: “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.”

Heather recently told DIVA magazine of the festival: “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.”

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.

This year's Iris fest takes place from 5-10 October 2021.

It was recently announced that Iris was lending its support to next month's 48-hour short film challenge called HER FFILM FER, with the winner's film being broadcast at the festival.

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