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Cardiff character: Jay Bedwani

Jay Bedwani is this years winner of the Iris Prize at Cardiffs annual international gay and lesbian film festival. Since claiming the award just four weeks ago, Jay has had his first taste of celebrity. “Its been nice,” said Jay, blushing, “turns out its not so hard to talk about yourself.

Jays winning film My Motheris a powerful profile documentary featuring Gustavo, a Mexican man who lives life both as himself and also as his alter ego Donna, in an attempt to feel closer to his late mother. Jay met Gustavo whilst volunteering in California, where he spends a lot of his time. It started as a photography project but I soon realised that Gustavo had so much to say that I thought Id experiment with film.Jay smiled as he recalled the time he spent filming, It was such a genuine project, just spending time with a really interesting and very sweet, intelligent guy.

Born and raised in Cardiff, Jay originally trained as a photographer. My Motheris his first documentary and won him his first international award, which he modestly acknowledges, “Its been really inspiring and nice to know Im sort of on the right track.”

Cardiff’s Iris Festival is growing every year and has built a prestigious reputation. “Having an international festival in Cardiff is really great,” said Jay, “I didn’t feel I had to win, just being involved was really good.

Being gay in Cardiff

Jay, 35, came out in his early 20s. “Im very lucky to have a great family,” Jay said laughing, “it was a slight anti-climax.

Visiting San Francisco for the first time opened Jay’s eyes to a more diverse and dynamic city, completely different to where he grew up in Cardiff. If I had a boyfriend here, Id be affectionate but not as I would in San Francisco. Holding hands on Queen Street is fine and I probably wouldn’t get any comments but I would still feel I was making a statement.

A handsome young man with defined facial hair, Jay recalled the first time he took his brother to San Francisco and his reaction to the high percentage of gay men compared to Cardiff. He said oh my god, are they really all gay? They are so handsome and they all have beards!’

Hosting international gay and lesbian events in Cardiff is a step in the right direction for Cardiff’s gay community. “I think recently there has been a lot more happening,” said Jay, “but when I grew up here, I struggled. We didn’t really have things like this going on.”

What the future holds

After such a successful transition from photography to film, Jay is experimenting with ideas for another short profile documentary filmed either in California, Australia or here in Cardiff.  But he is not ready to leave Gustavo just yet, “I’d really love to develop My Mother into a feature, I think it would really stand up to that as a long term project but we will just have to wait and see.”

Jay smiles during an interview with Emma-Louise Pritchard in Buffalo Bar, Cardiff

Jay smiles during an interview with Emma-Louise Pritchard in Buffalo Bar, Cardiff

 

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