Domestic Godess.

I’ve got six minutes, possibly seven! It depends if I can still hear the cake singing when I open the oven door. Honestly 60 seconds is all it takes to deflate what looked to the naked eye as a perfectly risen Victoria sponge if you open the door at the wrong time. There’s way more to this cooking malarkey than eating. You need to listen; to feel; be familiar with your ingredients. Some need to rest after cooking, some need to reach room temperature after leaving the fridge before they can do anything. And don’t get me started about the politics of cooking! If one other person tells me that a Victoria sponge needs cream and jam… Grant, my other half, seems to be very happy with just jam.

As we start week six of lockdown, I’ve just finished my fifth Victoria sponge. It should have been six, but my other half wanted a go, and made a half decent creation with sultanas. Unfortunately, we were running low on flour on that day; I won’t mention the war! His creation was not quite what he had been expecting when he opened the oven door. But it did taste fantastic, especially after so much Victoria sponge.

The blurred lines between work and home time could be quite confusing – but, somehow, I seem to be more productive during this period of lockdown. The “office” is in the dining room, which is next to the kitchen. I’ve always been a multi-tasker, juggling balls has never been a problem for me. The proximity of said new office to the kitchen lends itself to sharing the role of a Domestic Goddess with that of a Film Festival Director. I’m pleased I don’t have to choose between the two.

The only downside to the lockdown is that I’m not able to share my culinary delights (modest is my middle name) with my family and friends and this obviously includes Team Iris. I’m joined by members of the team daily, with a full meeting at least once a week. It all feels so normal, and possibly it might be the future. Don’t get me wrong I still miss the direct human contact. Some of the best ideas I’ve been involved with happen when ideas physically bounce off one another while people are just hanging around. We can’t just hang about on Zoom all day waiting for a moment (or can you?). But humans adapt and the time we do spend together on whatever platform we choose becomes very precious. Today, I would like to think that as a team of people we all know more about what we are doing, because we have been more structured in sharing what we do with each other. Which is quite amazing considering the world of the pandemic seems to be challenging us every day.

During this confusing period we have announced, whatever happens, we will be presenting one film maker with the Iris Prize this year. The date for your diary is Saturday 10th of October 2020. Thanks to The Michael Bishop Foundation we still have £30,000 to hand over to a filmmaker to make a new short film.

That’s possibly more than six or even seven minutes! It was more like 30 minutes if I was honest. But don’t worry the Victoria Sponge was perfect, obviously, now that I’m a multi-tasking Domestic Goddess / Managing Director.


Berwyn Rowlands nominated in “Outstanding Contribution to LGBT Life” at 2020 British LGBT Awards
“He’s made it easier for so many people to come out as part of the LGBT family.”

The Festivals Company managing director Berwyn Rowlands has been selected in the Top 10 at the British LGBT Awards in the category “Outstanding Contribution to LGBT Life.”

The British LGBT Awards have been running since 2015 and aim to highlight and celebrate role models and organisations who work to better the lives of LGBT+ people in the UK. The Outstanding Contribution to LGBT Life award celebrates individuals whose work has made a significant impact to the LGBT+ community, and was won in 2019 by Human Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Iris Prize Chair Andrew Pierce Commented:

“I’m delighted that Berwyn has been recognised with this nomination. I’ve been able to observe Berwyn’s determination and commitment to make the Iris Prize a world leader from my vantage point as a member of the first jury in 2007 and very quickly after that the Chair.

“I’ve seen Iris grow from the inaugural film festival in 2007 with a modest audience of 1,500 to an annual celebration of over 10,000 who gather in Cardiff to witness the presentation of the world’s largest LGBT+ short film prize.

“Berwyn’s commitment to the LGBT+ cause started way back in the 1980s as an active member of CYLCH, the radical Welsh LGBT group. He was also the first president of Cardiff Lions RFC, and a member of Stonewall Cymru’s Media Watch group.

“He has used the medium of film to shine a bright light not just on the discrimination and hypocrisy that is sadly is still part of so many of our lives. But the Iris Prize has also brought out some wonderful, heart-warming compassionate and amusing stories about the LGBT family worldwide. He’s made it easier for so many people to come out as part of the LGBT family. I’m proud to know him and support him in whatever way I can.

“Berwyn is a visionary who delivers. He has the ability of getting the best out of those who work with him – this includes sponsors, the festival team, volunteers and the general public. He is truly one of the nice guys and I’m so pleased Berwyn has been recognised like this”

The Festivals Company team are proud and delighted that Berwyn has been recognised for his contributions to LGBT+ life in Wales and beyond.

The award will be decided by a judging panel and will be announced at a ceremony in London on 29th May 2020.

Berwyn Rowlands – A film fan from an early age Berwyn was producing “movies” using his 8mm camera and projecting films for friends in his parent’s front room from the age of 9. Berwyn has produced films for cinema and TV content in Welsh and English which has been broadcast on BBC, ITV and S4C including Llety Piod (UK) a 90 min TV Movie starring Bill Nighy. He organized his first public film festival in Aberystwyth, Wales in 1989 which became known as the Welsh International Film Festival and included a weekend celebration of LGBT film.

In 1997 aged 31 Berwyn was appointed as the first Chief Executive of Sgrîn: The Media Agency for Wales. In this role, Berwyn led the establishment of Wales’ National Film and Sound Archive and secured the co-operation of all 22 local authorities to see a unified all-Wales location service – The Wales Screen Commission – established in 2002.

In 2006 he established the Iris Prize – the world’s largest LGBT short film prize at £30,000. 11 short films have been produced to date with the Iris Prize including Burger and Followers which screened at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2016 the festival celebrated its 10th anniversary and was recognized by Bafta as an “A” list festival. The Cardiff based event has featured in the top 50 film festivals in the world by Movie Maker Magazine for four years. The Iris Prize was recognized by The Queen at a reception for the British Film Industry in 2013.

He is regularly asked to talk about LGBT issues on TV and radio. In 1990 he was one of the founders of CYLCH – the first Welsh national gay and lesbian organization in Wales. The organization published the bi-lingual magazine Y Ddraig Binc and exhibited at the National Eisteddfod in Aberystwyth in 1992 when an anti-gay protestor left some shit on their stand!

He has also served on film award juries and speaks on both programming and event production at conferences. He has contributed to the European Short Film Symposium, Cork, the International Film Festival Summit New York and participated on the following film juries: OUTFEST, LA; Mezipatra, Prague; Kashish, Mumbai; INSIDEOUT, Toronto and Gaze, Dublin.

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