What’s the signature item? World’s biggest short filmfest ‘Tropfest’ to run 30th year.

Buy a plot at Parramatta, set up a picnic blanket, and enjoy the ride!

In the early ’90s, a small film festival of 200 people was born in the Tropicana Caffe, Sydney. Australian film director John Polson launched the event with the heart to share short films with thousands of film lovers, with a choppy ride along the way. The festival has seen a dramatic increase of popularity throughout the years, to a globally streamed audience on the ABC, and a judging panel of the likes of Toni Collette, Keanu Reeves, Samuel L Jackson, and Baz Luhrman.

Tropfest is a symbol of the Australian run and gun film industry. John Polson began his venture in Darlinghurst, the inner suburb of Sydney’s east under the name ‘Tropicana Film Festival’. Through funding difficulties in 2015, the large-scale event was canceled within the month of the event. Now in 2019, the festival is the world’s largest with a global reach to Abu Dhabi, New York, and South-East Asia.

Throughout the years of the festival, Tropfest has launched the careers of stuntman/director Nash Edgerton, Rebel Wilson, and Alethea Jones to the world stage.

In 2012, Alethea Jones directed the funky, Wes Andersonesque short ‘Lemonade Stand’ which went on to receive the first prize in front of Australian audiences.

2012 Tropfest Winner ‘Lemonade Stand’ published on Vimeo by Writer Tim Potter

Cargo, finalist in the 2013 Tropfest competition is now a successful Netflix feature debut starring Martin Freeman under the same name ‘Cargo’

In 2017, my brother and I attempted to create our first professional short film with the synopsis that a young man named Gary was accidentally thrown into overnight fame with his name trending on Twitter. Us both had organized unpaid extras, volunteers and a script to even one full day of principal photography. On day one we lost our tripod in a local cafe we filmed in, and then the story was left there to never be touched again…

In Tropfest fashion, every year a signature item is a requirement into the short, to be mended into the script or a hidden item in the background with some bizarre and uniquely Australian stories creating original screenplays from a singular item at the center. For 2018 acceptance, the item was a rose which we decided we would place as a prop somewhere behind and cope with including it in our not-so-original script.

After two years ravaging the film industry in Australia, Tropfest hasn’t seen a successful run, even online since 2019 with the signature item ‘Candle’. Moving into 2022, the Tropicana Film Festival will be celebrating its 30th anniversary.

As of today 17th of November 2021, Tropfest’s 2-year silence has been updated to a webpage redesign announcement, ‘Coming Soon’.

On the new webpage, which has been black with a singular logo for 2 years the site quotes “2022 will mark Tropfest’s 30th year as the world’s much-loved platform for short films”.

Does this mean we will see a new wave of Australian talent qualifying for the world’s biggest audience? Qualifying in the previous years has fit within the early January period with media releases in late December. With submissions through academy-award qualifying website FilmFreeway.

Here is what to look out for if you’re looking to submit for Tropfest 2022…

  1. Short films qualify seven minutes or less.
  2. The prize pool consists of $100,000 dollars, a new car or an industry trip accross Los Angeles.
  3. Tropfest Junior is a smaller contest is open to under 16s.
  4.  Your film must be in 16:9 ratio and PAL format.
  5. Your film must never have been seen in public or streaming services.
  6. The film must contain the signature item and be made specifically for Tropfest.

So good luck cinegeeks! With new hope for Tropfest to come back in 2022, it’s time to start thinking about what you might submit to the biggest short film festival in the world! Keep your eyes peeled on the Tropfest Social Media to get some hints as to whether it will return with a bang.

Article Written by Catalyst Editor, Jasper Riley
Cover Image Supplied by Tropfest Website

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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