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    James Middleton’s ‘The Red Dress’ was a finalist in 1993.

    Yes, that is David Wennham! And, yes, the film is fifteen minutes long! The seven minute time limit was only introduced in 1994.



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    A clip taken from Simon Bookallil’s documentary ‘Gone Troppo’.

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    The first Tropfest finalist film plays on the television screen …

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    Directed by Kashell Robertson-Swann

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    Clips taken from Simon Bookallil’s documentary ‘Gone Troppo’.

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    The crowd at Tropfest 1995.

  • The following article by Ben Holgate ran in The Sydney Morning Herald on the 14th September 1995.
    Tropfest takes off

    The previously low-key Tropicana Short Film Festival looks set to expand next year with a $15,000 boost from the NSW Film and Television Office.

    The grant will make up half Tropfest’s budget, which will be about five times more than this year.

    Tropfest director and founder John Polson – whom most people know as the gay boyfriend in The Sum of Us – said he would seek the rest of the money from corporate sponsors and patrons, like producer Jan Chapman (The Piano), who has already made a commitment.The grant also enabled him to employ, for the first time, three full-time staff.

    The festival, which will be held for the fourth time next February, also received a credibility boost when this year’s winner, Swinger, by Gregor Jordan, went on to win the Cannes Film Festival jury prize for best short film.

    Polson said he expected the number of films to be entered next year to double to about 80 (although only 15 to 20 are screened on the night). He also hoped that the crowd would increase from last February’s 2,500, as he had applied to the South Sydney Council to block off the section in Darlinghurst’s Victoria Street (between the fire station and Surrey Street that was used for the festival.

    Tropfest is unique in that all entries must be made specifically for the festival (entries close January 19). And to ensure their bona fides, films must include in the background a prop nominated each year. So far they have been a muffin, a coffee bean and, next year, a teaspoon. But Polson admits the latest might have been “a bit of a mistake”. “I forgot it was associated with junkies. So now a lot of films are set in toilets and Darlinghurst.”

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    The crowd on the footpath peers through the audience inside the Tropicana.

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    Serge Tezzo, Owner of the Tropicana Caffe, and Nicole Kidman chat amidst the crowd at Tropfest 1996.


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    It’s BYO at Tropfest 1996.
    Tropicana Caffe owner Serge Tezzo shares a joke with friends.

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    A young Nicole Kidman, one of Tropfest’s longest standing supporters, joins the throng at the third Tropfest.



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    The TSI for 1996 was ‘Teaspoon’.

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    1996 was a watershed year in Tropfest history. The turnout was so huge that Victoria Street was closed off and huge screens were erected up and down the road. With the help of local councils, fire brigade and police, not to mention the street’s café’s the night went off without a hitch. The sheer number of attendees, however, startled locals.

    Ruth Hessey wrote the following article about the growth of Tropfest in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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    Directed by Steve Le Marquand

    Steve Le Marquand won the Best Actor award for his performance.

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    Rebel Penfold Russell (left) joins the judging panel at Tropfest 1996.

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    Directed by Jonathan Ogilvie

    The trials and tribulations of dogstar film-maker Quinn Hud, as he attempts to sell his latest work, “Fall Out”, to the French.

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    Nicole Kidman and John Polson share a laugh at Tropfest 1996.


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    George Miller lends John a helping hand in the tech department.

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    Robert Connolly was awarded Second Prize at Tropfest 1997 for his film ‘Rust Bucket’. Rowan Woods accepted the Best Actor award for his role in the film.

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    Victoria St is blocked off and chairs line the street to accommodate the audience at Tropfest 1997.

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    A young Claudia Karvan joins the crowd at Tropfest 1997.

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    Yes it is!  Tom was a judge in 1997.

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    The trophy from Tropfest 1997.

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    Nash poses with his prizes.

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    Yep, that’s Deborah Kennedy in the background there.

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    Rowan won Best Actor in 1997 for his role in Robert Connolly’s film ‘Rust Bucket’.

    He also directed ‘Towel Head’ which was a finalist in the same year.

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    Nash Edgerton, winner of Tropfest 1997, chats to his brother Joel.

    Nash also directed ‘Lucky’ which was a finalist film in 2005.

    Joel Edgerton was a finalist in 2011 with his short film ‘Monkeys’.

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    The TSI for 1997 was ‘Pickle’.

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    Stephen Feneley, winner in 1993 and Joel Edgerton at Tropfest 1998.

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    Magda Szubanski, Baz Lurhmann and Jane Campion hang out at Tropfest 1998.

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    John Polson demonstrates the TSI for Tropfest 1998 – Kiss.

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    Directed by Jasmin Forbes-Watson

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    An excerpt from an article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 24th of February, 1998.

    Written by Richard Jinman

    It was the night Tropfest experienced its own “Demidenko affair”. The visiting American actor Samuel L. Jackson had just declared Intolerance the winner of the $5,000 first prize, and the 35,000-strong audience was expecting Laura Fienstein – the woman credited in the program as the film’s director and producer – to collect it.

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    The TSI for Tropfest 1998 was ‘Kiss’.

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    The second year at Rushcutters Bay Park and the crowd is at capacity.
    1998 was also the first year of the national broadcast via sattelite. Around 1,000 people in cafes around Audiences in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth made up the first national Tropfest audience.

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    Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving hang out at Tropfest 1998.
    Hugo attended as the star of a finalist film – ‘The Kiss’, directed by Alan Lovell.

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    Samuel L Jackson and John Polson at Tropfest 1998.

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    John Polson briefs the judges: Jane Campion, Baz Luhrmann, Samuel L Jackson, Magda Szubanski and Nash Edgerton.

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    John Woo joins the judging panel at Tropfest 1999.

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    Rachel Griffiths, Deborah Mailman and Marshall Napier hang backstage at Tropfest 1999.

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    Julia Zemiro won Best Actress for her role in this film directed by Darren Ashton.

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    Directed by Anton Perry

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    Acclaimed Australia actor Rachel Griffiths being interviewed on the red carpet.

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    Directed by Darren Ashton.

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    The Domain lights up for Tropfest 1999.

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    In 1999, Tropfest moves to The Domain in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, to accommodate the huge crowds.


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    Directed by Will Usic & Damon Herriman

    An illicit affair with a politician’s daughter leads a young man on a city wide search for the perfect condom.


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    The TSI for Tropfest 1999 was ‘Chopsticks’.

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    John Polson on stage at Tropfest 1999.

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    Directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith

    On a wintry bay, far from home, a young child witnesses something truly unexpected.

    Kieran took home the Tropicana Award for ‘The Island’, a shared prize with John Biggins’ film ‘How Far Can You Wear Your Underpants From The Beach?’.

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    A group of Trop volunteers get a much-needed sugar hit.

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    Directed by Jennifer Perrot

    Sam Worthington won Best Actor for his role in this film.

    The following interview with Jennifer appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 25th of February 2000.


    IT will be over in a matter of minutes, but it could be the highlight of Jennifer Perrot’s film-making career.

    As one of 16 finalists in Tropfest, Perrot will be on hand to watch the national screening of her short film A Matter Of Life alongside more than 100,000 people tonight.

    In what has become a Sydney institution, crowds are expected to flock to The Domain to watch Sydney’s best-loved short film festival.

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    Ewan McGregor hangs out behind-the-scenes at Tropfest 2000.

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    The TSI for Tropfest 2000 was ‘Bug’.

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    Directed by Robin Feiner and Jesse Gibson

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    Directed by John Biggins

    John’s film was the inspiration for the article below. Written by Gary Maddox, this article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on February 26, 2000.


    The Italian catwalks have nothing on the fashion debate at the Tropfest short film festival in Sydney tomorrow.
    It’s an issue that will divide the late-summer crowds buzzing in the seaside cafes: whether wearing underpants instead of swimmers has become socially acceptable at the beach.

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    Ben Mendelsohn joined the judging panel at Tropfest 2001.

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    The packed VIP tent at Tropfest 2001.

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    Judges David Wenham and Greta Scacchi pose for the media at Tropfest 2000.

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    A young Patrick Hughes accepts his prize as winner of Tropfest 2001.

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    The TSI for Tropfest 2001 was ‘Horn’.

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    The judging panel for Tropfest 2000, Greta Scacchi, David Wenham, Toni Collette and Rachel Ward, join John Polson on stage.

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    Directed by Patrick Hughes


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    A short history reel covering the rise of Tropfest 1993-2002.

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    Keanu Reaves and Carrie-Ann Moss attended Intel Tropfest 2002.

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    A time lapse of the crowd arriving in the Domain at Intel Tropfest 2002.

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    Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith in the VIP tent at Intel Tropfest 2002.

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    The TSI for Intel Tropfest 2002 was ‘Match’.

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    Directed by Gary Eck

    A young filmmaker’s quest to make the ultimate movie.


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    Directed by Carla Drago

    A man, a woman and some first date nerves – sometimes just being human is embarrassing!

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    Canberra attracts record attendance in 2002.

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    Directed by Emma Freeman

    A father and his blind son struggle to survive on a drought stricken land.


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    Do you want to learn how to hurt people?

    Directed by Mike Sharman & Andrew Tomazos

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    Russell Crowe announces Tim Bullock as the winner of Intel Tropfest 2003.

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    An article that appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald on February 24, 2003.


    The appearance of Russell Crowe – fresh off a plane after marriage preparations with singer Danielle Spencer – coincided with a break in the rain at Tropfest last night.

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    The crowd in the Domain at Intel Tropfest 2003.

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    A clip taken from Simon Bookallil’s documentary ‘Gone Troppo’.

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    Jason Gann accepting ‘Best Male Actor’ for the second year running has gone down in Tropfest history.

    Watch the footage here.

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    The 3 min trailer created by Emma Freeman for Intel Tropfest 2003.

    Emma took out first prize at Intel Tropfest 2002 with her film ‘Lamb’.


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    Directed by Tim Bullock

    Sometimes, disposing of a body can be a real pain in the arse.

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    The sun sets as the crowd waits for the first film to be screened at Intel Tropfest 2003.

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    Directed by Daniel Pront

    A young man’s observations about friendship, love and happiness, living in the small town of Vina Del Mar, Chile.

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    Gary Eck takes home the winning trophy with his film ‘The Money’.

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    Directed by Steve Baker

    Life can be a little different through the eyes of an animation…

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    Rowan Woods, Salma Hayek and Josh Lucas arrive at Tropfest 2004.

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    Past Tropfest finalists and judges including Sam Worthington, Nash Edgerton, Steve Baker and Patrick Hughes and industry professionals Jamie Foxx, Bridie Carter and Claudia Karvan offer advice to budding filmmakers.

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    Directed by Gary Eck

    Damien has done something he shouldn’t have – he’s about to face the toughest question of his life.

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    Salma Hayek and Josh Lucas were part of the official judging panel at Tropfest 2004.


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    Directed by Tim Bullock, winner of Tropfest 2003.

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    Claudia Karvan, Salma Hayek, Adam Spencer and and Josh Lucas announce the prize winners of Tropfest 2004.

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    Directed by Costa Avgoustinos

    Yin is a cartoon about two characters who must find a way of becoming part of the stars.

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    The jury for Tropfest 2005 was made up of industry VIP’s (from left to right) Bryan Singer, Jackie O’Sullivan, Geoffrey Rush, Abbie Cornish, Magda Szubanski and 2004 winner Gary Eck. John Polson on far right.

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    Directed by Luke Eve

    Two men. One alleyway. An entire world to explore.

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    The trailer for Tropfest 2005 was directed by Gary Eck.

    Gary won in 2004 with his film ‘The Money’.


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    The TSI for Tropfest 2005 was Umbrella.

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    A few storm clouds aren’t scaring off audiences this year. It’s 2.30pm and the Domain is filling up quickly!

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    Tropfest 2005 judge, Abbie Cornish, arrives on the red carpet.

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    VIP guests at Tropfest 2005 included Heath Ledger, Daniel Macpherson, Zoe Carides and a host of filmmakers, media and industry executives.

    The judging panel comprised Geoffrey Rush, Magda Szubanski, Bryan Singer, Abbie Cornish, Jackie O’Sullivan and Tropfest 2004 winner Gary Eck.


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    Directed by Alex Weinress & Rob Carlton

    A single father has a unique approach to raising his two year old twin boys- pick a favourite.

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    Tropfest 2006 in The Domain was cut short as sever storms lashed down on those in attendance. Read more …

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    The TSI for Tropfest 2006 was ‘Bubble’.

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    Simon Baker arrives at Tropfest 2006.


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    Directed by by Dale Sidney

    A perfect Christmas dinner is wasted on a demanding picky, fussy snapper with impossibly high standards.

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    Directed by Sean Ascroft

    In a stab-happy world, a sad outcast wrestles with his demons. The story of bubbleboy is a film about being trapped by the past and redeemed by the future.

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    Rose Byrne arrives as part of the judging panel for Tropfest 2006

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    The trailer for Tropfest 2006 was directed by Luke Eve.


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    Megan Gale walks the Red Carpet at Tropfest 2006.

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    Directed by Juliet Lamont

    To forgive is to set yourself free.

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    Chris Taylor, Rachel Coopes and Brendan Cowell at the Tropfest 2007 Launch Party, held at Zeta Bar.

    2007 also saw an exclusive Cointreau Party held at North Bondi  Italian to mark the 15th year of Tropfest. Check out Vogue’s online gallery of pics here.


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    Xavier Samuel, Mia Wasikowska and Peter Carstairs arrive at Tropfest 2007.

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    Don Hany, Susie Porter & Aaron Farroso arrive at Tropfest 2007.

    Susie Porter joined George Miller , Catherine Martin, David Wenham, Clayton Jacobson and Tropfest 2006 winners Rob Carlton and Alex Weinress on the judging panel.



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    ‘Happy Feet’ director George Miller and Tropfest Director John Polson celebrate with Steve Baker, winner of Tropfest 2007.

    Watch Steve’s winning film ‘An Imaginary Life’.


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    Directed by Mark Bellamy

    One morning, in busy peak hour traffic, two motorist’s lives collide in a near traffic accident. One driver, shaken and angry, watches as his fellow commuter speeds away without acknowledgment or apology for the near miss. He decides to chase him down in a quest for revenge.

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    The TSI for Tropfest 2007 was Sneeze.

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    Directed by John Mavety

    Alex Vonzitzavitz is about to face the most humiliating experience of his life. That nightmare you had about turning up to school naked? Well this is worse…But don’t panic! Superheroes always find a way. Strap yourself in for the true story of The Von.

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    In 2007, Tropfest travelled to New York for the first time.


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    Hamish Blake, Anna Jennings-Edquist, Megan Gale and Andy Lee at Tropfest 2007.

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    Directed by Steve Baker

    For an imaginary friend… Living an imaginary life… There’s nothing worse than being forgotten.

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    Jason Van Genderen won Tropfest NY 2008 with his beautiful film ‘Mankind Is No Island’. Using found signage on the streets of NY and Sydney to tell a touching story from the very heart of two cities, ‘Mankind Is No Island’ was shot entirely on a mobile phone with a budget of $50.00.



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    Naomi Watts and Geoffrey Rush joined the judging panel at  Tropfest 2008.

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    Poor Joshua Verde

    Directed by Guy Verge Wallace

    A boy with a tragic childhood goes on an enchanting and emotional adventure that helps reconnect with his family and utilize his creative talents so that he can be happy once again.



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    Directed by Mark Constable

    Uncle Jonny is the best mate of a 7 year old who is daydreaming during class.

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    Directed by Michelle Lehman

    Little girl likes little boy. Little boy likes BMX bike. Something has to give.

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    Our very first group of Trop JR finalists celebrate their achievement!

    2008 was the very first year of Trop JR – the world’s largest short film festival- for kids, by kids!


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    Directed by James Calvert and Eddie White for the 2008 Lancer Supershort Series.

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    The TSI for Trop JR 2009 was Squeeze.

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    Directed by Abe Forsythe

    What would you do if you crossed paths with one Australia’s most notorious criminals?

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    2009 was the first year that the festival was televised live – on Movie Extra. To celebrate, Movie Extra put together some incredible footage of Tropfest over the years.

    In this video Jason Gann, Best Male Actor in 2002 and 2003, gives us a run down of the Do’s and Don’ts for every Tropfest Finalist wannabe.


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    In another international move, Tropfest travelled to Bangkok in 2009!

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    Genevieve Clay won Tropfest 2009 with her beautiful film ‘Be My Brother’.


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    Directed by Tim Dean

    Lucas’s father, a detective, visits a crime scene and asks him to wait in the car. Will he stay put – or is too tempting to see what’s on the other side of the fence?

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    As part of the 2009 Movie Extra Tropfest Short Film Festival, the Lancer Supershort Series allowed three brilliant filmmakers to each construct a short film starring the stunning new Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback.

    “The Rings” directed by Michelle Lehman
    “Ready. Fire. Aim” directed by Zenon Kohler
    “Help” directed by Steve Baker

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    Directed by Genevieve Clay

    A young man’s charm and charisma challenges the prejudices of a stranger at a bus stop.

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    The line up of judges for Trop Jr 2009 included Brandon Walters, star of Baz Lurhmann’s epic film, ‘Australia’, Heidi Valkenburg, presenter of Channel Nine’s kid’s TV show ‘WB’, Silas Hickey, Creative Director, Asia Pacific Animation Development, Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, Inc (TENA) and the winner of Trop Jr 2008, Guy Verge Wallace.

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    Directed by Gabriel Colomb

    Famous Hollywood director, Winston Kubrike, waxes lyrical about his new masterpiece. When the film fails miserably, however, he is less than complimentary about some of his key crew members.

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    The TSI for Tropfest 2009 was ‘Spring’.

    Lachlan Bruce designed the creative for Tropfest 2009.

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    Directed by Abe Forsythe

    Movie Extra Tropfest Australia 2010


    A Man awakens to be confronted with his life, and the choices he’s made.

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    Directed and animated by Steve Baker
    Narrated by Anthony LaPaglia

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    Elijah Wood  arrives at Movie Extra Tropfest Australia 2010. Elijah joined Toni Collete and 2009 winner Genevieve Clay on the panel of celebrity judges.


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    A call for entries clip for Trop JR 2010 created by ABC3.

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    Host of ABC3′s Prank Patrol, Scotty Tweedie, gets covered in beans at Trop JR 2010!

    Scotty was joined by Channel Ten’s Yumi Stynes and ABC3 hosts Kayne Tremills,  Hannah Wang, Mitch ‘Tommo’ Tomlinson and Amberley Lobo. Kat Risteska and Nacho Pop from So You Think You Can Dance also joined in the festivities.

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    Some of the highlights from the 2010 festival.


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    Last Roll Of The Dice

    Directed by Matthew Chuang
    Movie Extra Tropfest Australia 2010
    Third Prize Winner

    In her final act of desperation, Kathy turns to internet dating in the hopes of finding that special someone.

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    Directed by Peter Richardson & Josh Raish

    Ever wondered where that coin you hold in your hand has been? What it is that it has seen? This film will keep you guessing right to the very end!


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    Captiv8 created the opening titles for Movie Extra Tropfest Australia 2010.

    It’s sharp, edgy and perfectly captures the TSI for 2010 – Dice.



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    My Neighbourhood Has Been Overrun By Baboons

    Directed by Cameron Edser & Michael Richards

    Tropfest Australia 2010

    Second Prize

    What if you woke up one morning and your neighbourhood had been overrun by baboons? What if there was nothing you could do and nowhere you could hide?


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    The Movie Extra Tropfest Signature Item (TSI) this year was “Key”.

    Poster designed by Lachlan Bruce.

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    Animal Beatbox

    Director/Producer: Damon Gameau

    What is the true call of the wild? Here we travel down a very special river and are introduced to a wide variety of the animal kingdom who all contribute their name for the sake of music.

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    The Unspoken

    Directed by Jason van Genderen

    A confronting look at a filmmaker’s personal journey to reach out to his dying father.

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    The opening titles for Movie Extra Tropfest Australia 2011.

    Created by Captiv8.

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    The Maestro

    Directed by Adam Anthony

    On unkind city streets an off-key derelict liberates a device empowering him to create a symphony out of the world around him. When the orchestra becomes as big as the city itself, will The Maestro still be able to control his world of sound?

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    Created by Steve Baker

    Music and sound by Luke Mynor.

    Steve created the trailer  for Movie Extra Tropfest Australia  2010, and we asked him to carry on the ‘everyone has a story to tell’ theme in another trailer for 2011.

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    The opening titles for Trop Jr 2011.

    Created by Captiv8.



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    Scotty Tweedie of ABC3′s Prank Patrol hosts Trop Jr 2011.

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    Judges Olivia Newton-John and Jack Thompson announce Damon Gameau’s short film ‘Animal Beatbox’ as the winner of Movie Extra Tropfest Australia 2011.

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    Jassem Al Jabbouri took out first prize at the inaugural Tropfest Arabia with his short film ‘Flock of Stars’.

    Learn more about Tropfest Arabia.

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    Directed by Simeon Bain

    Trop Jr

    Winner 2011

    A seemingly average teenager turns into a highly trained special operative after receiving an order from headquarters. Watch as he uses his full repertoire of skills and abilities to complete his task. Yet not everything is as it seems.

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    Established to support Australia’s dynamic screen culture, Tropfest Roughcut brought together some of the industry greats including Charles Randolph and Geoffrey Rush to explore creativity and collaboration in filmmaking.


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    There was a sea of umbrellas in the Domain as rain bucketed down on Trop audiences.

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    Jason van Genderen won First Prize in the 2012 Telstra Mobile Masterpieces category with ‘The 53rd Hour’.

    Director/Producer: Jason van Genderen

    Waving goodbye to your kids is something most parents do without thinking. Follow this single Dad’s journey as he documents 8 months of saying goodbye to his two children, by capturing the missing moments between. Honest, heartfelt and true, this short was captured entirely on an iPhone.

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    The TSI for Trop Jr 2012 was ‘Juice’.

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    Jordan Rodrigues led everyone in a hip hop routine at Trop Jr 2012 in the Domain.

    Check out more pics from the festival.


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    Pluto Jonze won the very first Tropscore comp in 2009.

    He came back to play our afternoon set for Movie Extra Tropfest 2012 and put on an incredible show.

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    Created by Captiv8 and starring Matt Zaremes.

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    Nicoel Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and Toni Collette joined the judging panel at Movie Extra Tropfest 2012.

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    About an hour or two before the rain and the Domain is packed!

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    Max Barden and Tim Sheehan won Trop Jr 2012 with their short film ‘Let’s Make A Movie’.

    Directors: Max Barden and Tim Sheehan
    Producer: Rosemary Kelly

    Max and Tim decide to make a movie to enter into a short film competition. But what kind of movie should they make? Be entertained as they go through a few options…..

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    Alethea Jones won Movie Extra Tropfest 2012 with her film ‘Lemonade Stand’.

    Director: Alethea Jones
    Producer: Julian Costanzo
    State: VIC

    Benny and Granddad are best friends and never leave each others side. They also run the most successful light-refreshment stand in town. Yet all could change when an old neighbour decides to get in the way. Lemonade Stand is a story of mateship, courage and a little hint of magic.



Help us complete our archives! Send your Tropfest memories to mail@tropfest.com.au