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, South East Asia 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.
Tropfest launched into the US in 2012 with two highly successful events – Tropfest Las Vegas and Tropfest New York, held in June, 2012. Tropfest returned to New York in June, 2013 in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, where an audience of 22,000 came out to support emerging filmmakers.
In early June 2012, to celebrate Tropfest’s 20 year history, the best 16 films from the past two decades battled it out in the Tropfest All Star Competition. With judges Toni Collette, 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 took out the top prize. See the winning film HERE.
Tropfest New York’s debut festival took place at Bryant Park on a spectacular summer day/night on June 23, 2012. The ever-dashing Hugh Jackman took the stage later in the evening to host the event in front of 10,000+ crowd with judges Rose Byrne, Judah Friedlander, Ted Hope, Jennifer Westfeldt and Scott Foundas. First Prize was awarded to Josh Leake for his thought-provoking documentary, “Emptys”.
Tropfest’s return to New York in 2013 proved to be an even bigger occasion, with a huge crowd of 22,000 film-lovers packing out Prospect Park for a day of music – including People Get Ready, Ghost Beach, Bear in Heaven, Neon Indian (DJ Set) and headliners, Chairlift, followed by an evening of 16 competition films (10 of which were made by New York-based filmmakers!) hosted by the charming and talented Liev Schreiber.
The judging panel, made up of Lake Bell, Malcolm Gladwell, Fisher Stevens, Charles Randolph and Leonard Lopate had a tough decision in picking the winner of $20,000 (sponsored by Motion Picture Association). After much deliberation, The Unlikely Maestro, directed by Nick Baker and Tristan Klein, stole the judges’ hearts to take out First Prize. See the winning film HERE.
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.
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.