Born 21 years ago in a cafe (‘The Tropicana’) in Sydney, Australia, Tropfest is now the world’s largest short film festival. It is supported by some of the biggest names in the international film community and has received thousands of submissions for its film festivals in Australia, New Zealand, Tropfest Arabia in Abu Dhabi and elsewhere. Tropfest in Australia attracts a live national audience of more than 150,000 people on a single night with live satellite links to outdoor locations in major cities around the country. See highlights from Tropfest Australia 2012.
Now Tropfest has launched into the US with two highly successful events - Tropfest Las Vegas and Tropfest New York, held in June, 2012.
On June 1-3 2012, in a celebration of Tropfest’s 20 year history, the best 16 films from the past two decades battled it out in the Tropfest All Star Competition at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. With judges Toni Collette (President of the Jury), Tobey Maguire, Rebel Wilson, James Woods, Anthony LaPaglia, Trevor and Charles Randolph presiding over the competition, The Story of Bubble Boy, directed by Sean Ascroft battled strong competition to ultimately take out the top prize. See the winning film HERE.
Three weeks later, on Saturday, June 23, Tropfest New York took place at midtown Manhattan’s iconic Bryant Park on a spectacular summer day/night. The ever-dashing Hugh Jackman took the stage later in the evening to host the event in front of 10,000+ crowd. Judges of the New York competition included Rose Byrne, Judah Friedlander, Ted Hope, Jennifer Westfeldt and Scott Foundas. First Prize – which was $20,000 (sponsored by Motion Picture Association) – was awarded to Josh Leake for his thought-provoking film, “Emptys”.
Tropfest enables emerging filmmakers and others to have the opportunity to take part in this global phenomenon. If selected as a finalist, they will see their short film screened in front of a massive live and online audience and count themselves amongst an impressive alumni of filmmakers whose careers have been kick-started by Tropfest.
Truly an innovative concept and platform for filmmakers of diverse backgrounds to gain exposure and experience, Tropfest has become one of the world’s best springboards for emerging talent. Scores of films made for and screened at Tropfest have gone on to gain commercial distribution (eg. the hit US TV series “Wilfred” on FX began life as a 2002 Tropfest short film!)
Past Tropfest finalists include: Sam Worthington (Avatar); Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Warrior, Animal Kingdom); Alister Grierson (director of the James Cameron-produced Sanctum); Nash Edgerton (director of “Spider”, “Lucky”, “The Square” and “Bear”) and many more.
There are a few simple guidelines Tropfest entrants must follow:all entries must be made specifically for the event and have their premiere at Tropfest New York; films cannot exceed seven minutes, including titles and credits; and each film must contain the Tropfest Signature Item (TSI), which changes each year and is different in each Tropfest territory. For Tropfest New York 2012, the TSI was a staple of New York culinary culture: “Bagel”. In 2013, the TSI is “BRIDGE”.
In Tropfest tradition, filmmakers are welcome to include “BRIDGE” in their films in any manner they choose, either as a main part of the film or as a very subtle inclusion. There are no budget restrictions, and films can be shot on any format – even a mobile phone. The Tropfest premise advocates strength of idea over ‘slickness’ or technical merit. For some inspiration, visit some of our favorite films from the past twenty years here. Many of the films you see here cost just a few dollars and some are even made in just a couple of hours!
John Polson started the ‘Tropicana Short Film Festival’ (as it was originally known) as an informal short film screening for cast, crew and friends at the Tropicana Cafe in Sydney’s Darlinghurst. More than 200 people showed up for that first screening. Inspired by the turn out, John decided that a full-fledged short film festival was the next step (please see early footage here).
The Tropfest mission is to continue to develop the most exciting forum in the world for audiences to come together and celebrate premium short films; and to continue to offer filmmakers – regardless of their financial constraints – a bigger and better platform from which to launch their professional careers.
Check out this short REEL which shows the history of Tropfest.