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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.
The first Tropfest finalist film plays on the television screen …
A clip taken from Simon Bookallil’s documentary ‘Gone Troppo’.
Directed by Kashell Robertson-Swann
Clips taken from Simon Bookallil’s documentary ‘Gone Troppo’.
The crowd at Tropfest 1995.
The crowd on the footpath peers through the audience inside the Tropicana.
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.”
The TSI for 1996 was ‘Teaspoon’.
Rebel Penfold Russell (left) joins the judging panel at Tropfest 1996.
Serge Tezzo, Owner of the Tropicana Caffe, and Nicole Kidman chat amidst the crowd at Tropfest 1996.
A young Nicole Kidman, one of Tropfest’s longest standing supporters, joins the throng at the third Tropfest.
Nicole Kidman and John Polson share a laugh at Tropfest 1996.
It’s BYO at Tropfest 1996.
Tropicana Caffe owner Serge Tezzo shares a joke with friends.
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.
George Miller lends John a helping hand in the tech department.
The trophy from Tropfest 1997.
Victoria St is blocked off and chairs line the street to accommodate the audience at Tropfest 1997.
Yes it is! Tom was a judge in 1997.
Nash poses with his prizes.
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.
Directed by Nash Edgerton
The desperate misadventures of a young man, racing against the clock toward a mysterious destination.
This was the first short film that Nash wrote and directed.
John Polson demonstrates the TSI for Tropfest 1998 – Kiss.
Directed by Jasmin Forbes-Watson
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.
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.
Stephen Feneley, winner in 1993 and Joel Edgerton at Tropfest 1998.
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.
John Polson briefs the judges: Jane Campion, Baz Luhrmann, Samuel L Jackson, Magda Szubanski and Nash Edgerton.
The TSI for Tropfest 1999 was ‘Chopsticks’.
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.
Rachel Griffiths, Deborah Mailman and Marshall Napier hang backstage at Tropfest 1999.
The Domain lights up for Tropfest 1999.
John Polson on stage at Tropfest 1999.
In 1999, Tropfest moves to The Domain in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, to accommodate the huge crowds.
John Woo joins the judging panel at Tropfest 1999.
Ewan McGregor hangs out behind-the-scenes at Tropfest 2000.
HOW FAR CAN YOU WEAR YOUR UNDERPANTS FROM THE BEACH?
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.
The TSI for Tropfest 2000 was ‘Bug’.
Directed by Robin Feiner and Jesse Gibson
A group of Trop volunteers get a much-needed sugar hit.
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?’.
A MATTER OF LIFE
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.
Ben Mendelsohn joined the judging panel at Tropfest 2001.
The judging panel for Tropfest 2000, Greta Scacchi, David Wenham, Toni Collette and Rachel Ward, join John Polson on stage.
Judges David Wenham and Greta Scacchi pose for the media at Tropfest 2000.
The packed VIP tent at Tropfest 2001.
Directed by Patrick Hughes
A young Patrick Hughes accepts his prize as winner of Tropfest 2001.
The TSI for Tropfest 2001 was ‘Horn’.
A short history reel covering the rise of Tropfest 1993-2002.
Keanu Reaves and Carrie-Ann Moss attended Intel Tropfest 2002.
The TSI for Intel Tropfest 2002 was ‘Match’.
Directed by Gary Eck
A young filmmaker’s quest to make the ultimate movie.
Directed by Emma Freeman
A father and his blind son struggle to survive on a drought stricken land.
Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith in the VIP tent at Intel Tropfest 2002.
Jason Gann accepting ‘Best Male Actor’ for the second year running has gone down in Tropfest history.
Watch the footage here.
The crowd in the Domain at Intel Tropfest 2003.
The TSI for Intel Tropfest 2003 was ‘Rock’.
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.
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’.
Directed by Daniel Pront
A young man’s observations about friendship, love and happiness, living in the small town of Vina Del Mar, Chile.
The sun sets as the crowd waits for the first film to be screened at Intel Tropfest 2003.
A clip taken from Simon Bookallil’s documentary ‘Gone Troppo’.
Rachael Coopes interviews the crowd at Intel Tropfest 2003 on why they love Tropfest and what makes a great short film.
The following article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on February 21, 2003.
Why do so many people suddenly want to make their own movie? Sacha Molitorisz investigates the Tropfest-inspired phenomenon gripping Sydney.
Rowan Woods, Salma Hayek and Josh Lucas arrive at Tropfest 2004.
Directed by Gary Eck
Damien has done something he shouldn’t have – he’s about to face the toughest question of his life.
Directed by Tim Bullock, winner of Tropfest 2003.
Salma Hayek and Josh Lucas were part of the official judging panel at Tropfest 2004.
CONFESSIONS OF AN ANIMATION
Directed by Steve Baker
Life can be a little different through the eyes of an animation…
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.
The trailer for Tropfest 2005 was directed by Gary Eck.
Gary won in 2004 with his film ‘The Money’.
Directed by Nash Edgerton
Lucky finds himself in a bind.
Directed by Luke Eve
Two men. One alleyway. An entire world to explore.
The TSI for Tropfest 2005 was Umbrella.
Tropfest 2005 judge, Abbie Cornish, arrives on the red carpet.
A few storm clouds aren’t scaring off audiences this year. It’s 2.30pm and the Domain is filling up quickly!
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.
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.
Directed by Alister Grierson
When a man thinks his day can’t get any worse, he discovers he is driving a bomb.
Directed by by Dale Sidney
A perfect Christmas dinner is wasted on a demanding picky, fussy snapper with impossibly high standards.
Megan Gale walks the Red Carpet at Tropfest 2006.
The trailer for Tropfest 2006 was directed by Luke Eve.
THE STORY OF BUBBLE BOY
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.
CARMICHAEL & SHANE
Directed by Alex Weinress & Rob Carlton
A single father has a unique approach to raising his two year old twin boys- pick a favourite.
Rose Byrne arrives as part of the judging panel for Tropfest 2006
Tropfest 2006 in The Domain was cut short as sever storms lashed down on those in attendance. Read more …
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.
Hamish Blake, Anna Jennings-Edquist, Megan Gale and Andy Lee at Tropfest 2007.
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.
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.
The TSI for Tropfest 2007 was Sneeze.
‘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’.
AN IMAGINARY LIFE
Directed by Steve Baker
For an imaginary friend… Living an imaginary life… There’s nothing worse than being forgotten.
In 2007, Tropfest travelled to New York for the first time.
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.
Xavier Samuel, Mia Wasikowska and Peter Carstairs arrive at Tropfest 2007.
Tropfest 2008 trailer, created by Steve Baker.
Steve won Tropfest in 2007 with his film, ‘An Imaginary Life’.
Directed by Duane Fogwell for the 2008 Lancer Supershort Series.
The TSI for Tropfest 2008 was the number 8.
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.
Directed by Mark Constable
Uncle Jonny is the best mate of a 7 year old who is daydreaming during class.
GREAT WHITE HUNTERS
Directed by Gary Doust
What do you need to hunt the world’s greatest hunter? How about some fishing line and a six-pack.
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!
BEING CARL WILLIAMS
Directed by Abe Forsythe
What would you do if you crossed paths with one Australia’s most notorious criminals?
In another international move, Tropfest travelled to Bangkok in 2009!
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?
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.
BE MY BROTHER
Directed by Genevieve Clay
A young man’s charm and charisma challenges the prejudices of a stranger at a bus stop.
Genevieve Clay won Tropfest 2009 with her beautiful film ‘Be My Brother’.
The TSI for Tropfest 2009 was ‘Spring’.
Lachlan Bruce designed the creative for Tropfest 2009.
DRY WATER: THE MAKING OF
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.
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.
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
The TSI for Trop JR 2009 was Squeeze.
Movie Extra Tropfest 2010 drew an impressive crowd. Federation Square was packed despite the chilly weather!
Some of the highlights from the 2010 festival.
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.
Directed and animated by Steve Baker
Narrated by Anthony LaPaglia
Directed by Abe Forsythe
Movie Extra Tropfest Australia 2010
A Man awakens to be confronted with his life, and the choices he’s made.
My Neighbourhood Has Been Overrun By Baboons
Directed by Cameron Edser & Michael Richards
Tropfest Australia 2010
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?
Elijah Wood arrives at Movie Extra Tropfest Australia 2010. Elijah joined Toni Collete and 2009 winner Genevieve Clay on the panel of celebrity judges.
A quick look at the history of Tropfest from its beginnings in 1993 right up to 2010.
Captiv8 created the opening titles for Movie Extra Tropfest Australia 2010.
It’s sharp, edgy and perfectly captures the TSI for 2010 – Dice.
EVERY COIN HAS TWO SIDES
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!
The Movie Extra Tropfest Signature Item (TSI) this year was “Key”.
Poster designed by Lachlan Bruce.
Directed by Simeon Bain
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.
The opening titles for Trop Jr 2011.
Created by Captiv8.
The opening titles for Movie Extra Tropfest Australia 2011.
Created by Captiv8.
Directed by Jason van Genderen
A confronting look at a filmmaker’s personal journey to reach out to his dying father.
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.
Jassem Al Jabbouri took out first prize at the inaugural Tropfest Arabia with his short film ‘Flock of Stars’.
Learn more about Tropfest Arabia.
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.
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?
Scotty Tweedie of ABC3′s Prank Patrol hosts Trop Jr 2011.
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.
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…..
About an hour or two before the rain and the Domain is packed!
The TSI for Trop Jr 2012 was ‘Juice’.
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.
Created by Captiv8 and starring Matt Zaremes.
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.
Nicoel Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and Toni Collette joined the judging panel at Movie Extra Tropfest 2012.
Alethea Jones won Movie Extra Tropfest 2012 with her film ‘Lemonade Stand’.
Director: Alethea Jones
Producer: Julian Costanzo
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.
Jordan Rodrigues led everyone in a hip hop routine at Trop Jr 2012 in the Domain.
Check out more pics from the festival.
There was a sea of umbrellas in the Domain as rain bucketed down on Trop audiences.
Help us complete our archives! Send your Tropfest memories to email@example.com