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Farewell Tropfest

Written by
Time Out editors

On the weekend in which the much loved short film festival was meant to take place, we asked some Sydney cinephiles to share their memories to the much loved local film festival

Update: The world’s largest short film festival is making a triumphant return on Sun Feb 14 thanks to support from CGU Insurance.

Marc Fennell Triple J movie guy, The Feed, SBS Movies Host

"A big part of my life in film started with Tropfest. In 1999, I was in year nine at school, and making a Tropfest film was my first experience of filmmaking. I fell madly in love with it (although the film was terrible and I hope no one ever sees it). Everyone has an opinion on Tropfest films and that’s why it’s such a popular event. But Tropfest’s real value is providing an annual deadline for aspiring filmmakers to actually get off their arses make something – and that alone meant it has made a powerful contribution to Australian film.”

Brooke Goldfinch, 2015 winner of the Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director at Sydney Film Festival

“I first went to tropfest when I was 15. The boldness of the films that were screened and the energy of the event was really inspiring – I can still describe a handful of the films I saw that night. Tropfest has always privileged storytelling over fancy cameras and effects and that has made it unique. With the closing of Metro Screen, the reduction in funding to our film bodies and now this, opportunities for young filmmakers appear to be drying up and I fear that a lot of talented filmmakers are going to miss out on that first burst of inspiration or their big break.”

Margaret Pomeranz, Screen host on Foxtel Arts.

“It was the most shocking news. Tropfest had become an amazingly well-attended event, a date on not just the Sydney cultural calendar but all over Australia and internationally. To lose it, and as such a late date, just when the finalists for this year were about to be announced, is devastating. It’s spawned so many filmmakers over the years, it became the event to enter for anyone seriously interested in being noticed as a filmmaking talent.

This is a major dent in the cultural life of this country – let’s hope it’s only temporary. I’ve been a judge twice over the years, in the second one when it was still in Victoria Street at the Cross, the year that Gregor Jordan won with Swinger, and look what that did to his career! And then again only last year. The only thought I have is that it was a shame to move it to Centennial Park, the Domain was so central for so many people, easy to get at by public transport.

I was truly taken aback by the news. I feel very sorry for John Polson who put so much work and imagination into establishing it in the first place. I feel sorry for a lot of people, myself included.”

Natalie Miller AO, Executive Director, Sharmill Films, Joint Executive Director, Cinema Nova.

“John Polson is a hero of the industry and it’s a tragedy next year will not go ahead. I only hope someone will rescue the event and have it back on track in 2017. It is too important to lose in Australia. I remember the first ones and watched with pride its huge expansion. The losers are the filmmakers.”

Cassie McCullagh, The List host on Radio National

“Like most Sydneysiders, I’ve done my fair share of Tropfests, and have fond memories of drinking too much in the sun, losing friends in the crowd and queuing for the portable dunnies. I was even in a film that made the finals once back in 1996. I played a girl trying to kill a house guest with rat poison. I thought I was pretty convincing, but Nicole Kidman didn’t, which is a pity because she was the judge that year. If we’re being honest, the quality of the films has always been variable, but that’s not what’s important about Tropfest. It’s provided a destination for ideas, and inspiration to get off one’s arse and create something. And, even if you were never got around to actually submitting a film, it was always in the back of your mind – a gauntlet thrown down to this city of a million, often crazy, ideas.”

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