The Tropfest Story

The Tropfest Story

By Julia Nelson, Senior Manager Brand, Sponsorships & Events at IAG Australian Business Division

Tropfest has its roots in a small cafe in Darlinghurst, the Tropicana Cafe, where founder John Polson first planted the seed for what is today the world’s largest short film festival by gathering a group of cast, crew and friends together for a short film screening.

Initially known as the ‘Tropicana Short Film Festival’, Tropfest has evolved from this initial intimate gathering back in 1993 to the cultural icon it is today, recognised for the enormous contribution it has made to the development of the Australian Film Industry.

Each year, the organisers of Tropfest select a ‘Signature Item’ (TSI) that must be included in some way, in each submission. For 2016, the signature item is a ‘card’. The interpretation of the TSI is left completely up to the film-maker and this year could range from birthday cards to SIM cards to playing cards and every kind of card in between. TSIs from previous years have included ‘mirror’ and ‘change’.

Cleverly, the requirement for the TSI to be included in each submission ensures that each film submitted is made specifically for Tropfest, providing the opportunity for talented film makers to showcase their work without the need for massive budgets or expensive equipment.

From around 700 entries, 16 finalists are selected to compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in prizes. Winners also receive substantial media exposure and many have launched successful careers from the Tropfest platform. Film judging takes place live at the event by a panel of high profile industry personalities - with previous judges including Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts and Samuel L Jackson.

This year, the stories of finalists include an Australian ex World Champion boxer in the fight of his life with alcohol, Taylor Swift fans, and a friend with a dangerous secret. Other finalists look at how we deal with the cards life has dealt us, with stories of a deaf woman finding her passion in art and an autistic boy exploring his love for acting. The animation genre includes a comedy about a kid’s birthday party and the story of a damsel in distress.

Tropfest also includes a section for young film makers (under 15 years) – with the finalists for Trop Jr this year featuring two brothers each with an entry of their own. Amazingly, 6 of the 15 Trop Jr finalists have featured previously.

For a full list of this year’s finalists click here

More than 1.6 million people have attended a Tropfest event since it was established in 1993 by Founder and Festival Director, John Polson. The event today attracts a live national audience of around 150,000 and draws in hundreds of thousands more via the live TV broadcast.

Over the past 23 years, Tropfest has fostered some of today’s A-list Hollywood actors including Rebel Wilson, Sam Worthington, Joel Edgerton and well-known film directors who have gone on to make films such as Two Hands, The Black Balloon, The Boys, Little Fish, The Bank, Balibo, Paper Planes, Wish You Were Here, The Sum of Us and The Gift.

In 2016, CGU Insurance is helping Tropfest and all the small businesses who rely on it to see it through – announcing their sponsorship of the iconic event late in 2015.

Supporting this fantastic cultural event is about creating a renewed opportunity for Tropfest and all those small businesses associated with the event, enabling them to continue to thrive.

It’s also about supporting the wider community who are avid fans of film and entertainment and giving them an opportunity to come along to this unique event.

Tropfest is free to attend, complete with live music, entertainment and catering stalls. Tropfest will be held on Sunday, 14 February 2016 and is expected to attract tens of thousands of film-goers and be broadcast live to various cities around Australia. The event will be held at Sydney’s Centennial Park.

About the Author

Julia Nelson is Senior Manager Brand, Sponsorships & Events at IAG Australian Business Division. Julia is responsible for the CGU brand in IAG’s Commercial Insurance division including managing multi channel and multi media brand communications, brand health and driving brand awareness and consideration.

Julia is an experienced marketing and communications professional having spent over 20 years as a consultant and in senior leadership roles with some of Australia’s best known service brands. Julia’s passion lies in strategic marketing and communications and she has been a major driver behind the CGU sponsorship of Tropfest.

Click here for more information on Tropfest
Visit CGU for more information on CGU’s involvement with Tropfest