Tropfest: Australia’s most prestigious short film competition, and the largest short film festival in the world. With its start at a pub, growing to tens of thousands in Sydney, and a reboot in Parramatta last year, it’s getting better and better.
Streamed live on ABC’s YouTube channel (where you can catch the whole thing), 45,000 people gathered in Paramatta Park for an entire day. With TropFest Jr screening films by kids earlier in the day, the 16 Tropfest finalist films kicked off in the early evening.
I was joined for the evening by Megan Blenkarne of Mode & Methodology, Wellington’s premiere fashion blog. After being interviewed on the black carpet (not the red carpet!), we were amazed to find out that the Old Government House was open to VIP guests. National Trust volunteers took the time to show us the gorgeous Georgian rooms — in which our other Wellington friend, Leimomi Oakes from The Dreamstress, will be giving a talk later this year.
Behind Old Government House, we mixed with what felt like the entire film industry in Australia. Glasses of Moet in hand, cheese in our tummies, we conversed with the Lord Mayor of Parramatta and took photos of the beautiful bouquets of roses — a nod to this year’s Signature Object, a rose, which had to be included in every film.
VIPs, media, and filmmakers gathered on the slopes of Parramatta Park, overlooking the thousands of picnic-goers. We noshed on mini burgers, drank cider, marveled at the bats making their evening flights, and enjoyed the screening of the amazing short films. In between sets, the hosts interviewed past winners who’ve gone onto professional acclaim. Many are now working on major motion pictures in Hollywood, crediting their win at Tropfest for opening doors.
The panel this year was star-studded, with Oscar-nominated actress Rachel Griffiths, Primetime Emmy-nominated filmmaker Garth Davis (Lion), BAFTA-nominated Aussie documentarian Jennifer Peedom (Mountain), and Logie award-winning actor Rob Collins (Cleverman). But the main attraction was Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon. It was fun glimpsing her walking by — it’s not often I get to be around Hollywood royalty, and it’s a testament to Tropfest that they could get someone of her calibre as a judge.
Halfway through the evening, a surprise performance by Tim Minchin below us away:
The 2018 Tropfest winners:
- First Prize: Greta Nash, 23 (East Melbourne, VIC) – Two Piece.
- Second Prize: Nick Baker and Tristan Klein (Petersham, NSW) – with Rock Bottom
- Third Prize: Damian McLindon (Fitzroy North, VIC) for The Last Time I Saw You.
- Best Male Actor: Hugo Johnstone-Burt (Combination Fried Rice)
- Best Female Actress: Freya Van Dyke, 14 (Melbourne, VIC) Two Piece
The $3,000 prize for each short film star was generously donated by Nicole Kidman, while Greta is the lucky recipient of a $45,000 Holden Equinox LTZ; $10,000 cash courtesy of Kennedy Miller Mitchell; a film immersion course and ‘week of meetings’ in Los Angeles, with agents, studio executives and other industry professionals courtesy of the Motion Picture Association; and a Studio Filming Prize Package valued at $12,500 from Western Sydney University, a 12-month Event Cinemas Gold pass, and a trophy exclusively designed by Dinosaur Designs.
Treat yourself to watching Two Piece and the other winners on Tropfest’s YouTube channel. Fancy submitting a film of your own? You have the whole of this year to plan.
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa’s antics can be seen on Instagram. Her goal is to someday work on a film selected for Tropfest.
For more info, visit www.tropfest.org.au.