Tropfest – A Slice of Australian Culture

On Sunday the 22nd of February, Tropfest 2009 was shown live on Movie Extra, one of the film channels on Foxtel, the Sky equivalent in Australia.

What is Tropfest? I am glad you asked. If you already know what it is, then you were ahead of me. I love films and consider myself a minor film buff, but I’d never heard of it. Put simply, Tropfest is the worlds largest short film festival.

In more detail, Australian John Polson thought of it and in 1993 the first ever Tropicana Short Film Festival took place in the Tropicana Cafe in Sydney. Now it is a live event known simply as Tropfest, held at Sydney’s Domain in the Royal Botanic Gardens and screened live to 6 other Australian locations. It is, in typical Australian style, an outdoor festival.

Tropfest - Canberra 2007

Tropfest - Canberra 2007

Picture Courtesy of Laruth

The rules are quite simple. The film must be no longer than 7 minutes, it must be made specifically to enter the competition and it must be screened for the first time at Tropfest. Each year there is a “Tropfest Signature Item” (TSI), this year it was “spring”, to help ensure the film was specifically made for the event. So all films must have some kind of spring in it. It could be spring rolls, spring weather or spring into action. To be truthful, I found it difficult to notice the spring connection in each film, but I’m sure the judges spotted them all. If you want to enter 2010, the TSI is “dice”.

The films are judged on the strength of the idea and the film makers capacity to successfully execute and deliver that idea. Big budgets and top actors count for nothing.

The Movie Extra coverage was on for more than 4 hours and all 16 films that made the final were aired in full. It was a thoroughly enjoyable slice of Australian culture and I enjoyed every single film.

My favourites were The Delivery – tense with a twist. Bargain!– funny with a twist. Being Carl Williams (Carl Williams being an Australian multiple murderer and drug dealer who is played on Australian TV by Gyton Grantly) – a reality/fiction blurring comedy (with bad language, be warned). Beyond Words – confusing, clever and makes sense in the end. And The Fence – disturbing childhood destruction.

The good news is all the 16 finalist films are available on Youtube via the official Tropfest Channel. Which is great, because it means I can show you my personal favourite. NYE.

As I mentioned the other day, I have been to Sydney to see the New Years Eve fireworks. What a great day out it is too. We got there at about 4 pm, and drinks flow steadily. Our daughter was just 21 months old at the time but had just realised that if you do that walking stuff really fast and in a direction away from mummy and daddy, it’s a real hoot. Mummy and daddy end up chasing and shouting and you always get their full attention.

We were so paranoid about losing her, we took turns in attaching her to ourselves by way of a purpose made, yellow, three foot long Velcro wrist attachment.

So, my favourite, NYE…..

There! That’s put a damper on everything.

Now watch Bargain! Or The Furry Cheque Book and you will see that Tropfest was fun too. Next year, I may go sit in a field to watch it.

Finally, it would be rude not to mention this years winner, Be My Brother. The lead won best actor and I fully agreed with that, but I didn’t see the film as the winner. But what do I know? It’s well worth watching. All of them are.

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