A Quick Two Words on Tropfest

As you no doubt know by now, this year’s Tropfest short film festival has been cancelled:

Popular short film festival Tropfest has been cancelled after 23 years with founder John Polson saying it may be due to a “terrible and irresponsible mismanagement” of funds.

Billed as the world’s largest festival of its kind, Tropfest attracts hundreds of entries and is watched by thousands every year and was due to take place on December 6.

“It is devastating for me to announce today that Tropfest will not be taking place as scheduled in [Sydney’s] Centennial Park this year,” Mr Polson said in a statement.

Usually we wouldn’t care in the slightest – and not just because, thanks to loads of people wailing and gnashing their teeth, it looks like the massively successful international festival will probably be bailed out – as short film is not really our thing. Or anyone else’s outside of Tropfest, going by the number of “without Tropfest, Australian short film is doomed” messages swirling around social media and those portions of the press that benefit financially from Tropfest.

But c’mon guys, Tropfest is where a lot of Australian television’s biggest comedy types got their big break. Paul Fenech! Adam Zwar and Jason Gann! Austen Tayshus! Matilda Brown! Abe Forsythe! Okay, most of them were already working hard before Tropfest gave them a boost – or in the case of Brown, she was Bryan Brown’s daughter – but, you know… Tropfest!

And there’s all the big name comedy cameos! Last year’s winner Granny Smith starred Steve Vizard! And we were too depressed to do any further research there.

Then there’s the way that, more often than not, the winner is basically just a firmly average comedy sketch that just happens to have cost tens of thousands of dollars to film. Which does tend to reinforce the biggest problem with Australian film and television comedy these days: the idea that the script comes last. Coming up with a twist ending isn’t good writing; spending eight minutes telling one shitty joke is worse.

Despite Tropfest having an outsized impact on the shape of Australian comedy over the last decade or so, we’re pretty confident that the impact has been all bad. The people it made into successes were either going to make it anyway or didn’t deserve the attention; that whole “every film must feature one item” gimmick and the way it demanded all rights to the entrants’ films made it seem just a little like the whole event was more about promoting the Tropfest brand rather than the film-makers themselves.

So our quick two words on Tropfest? You can probably guess.


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1 Comment

  • EvilCommieDictator says:

    Funnily enough, after Vizard got involved there was a:

    “terrible and irresponsible mismanagement” of funds