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‘Disaster’ as short film festival Tropfest is axed owing to ‘terrible’ financial mismanagement

Tropfest, Australia’s best known and most widely attended public film festival, has been dramatically cancelled with less than a month’s notice.

TropfestFounder John Polson said in a statement the disaster was linked to sponsorship problems.

tropfest logoThe festival  – celebrating short films – began in 1993 as a small event held at Darlinghurst’s Tropicana Cafe.

It grew to a huge public event held at The Domain in Sydney attending by thousands of film lovers, and more recently moved to Centennial Park. It also expanded to more than ten cities globally.

The contest – themed on a single word each year – provided a major platform for budding filmmakers looking to break through. This year’s word was “card”.

The cancellation will come as a huge disappointment to film-makers who have already submitted their entries, many of which will have taken hundreds of hours and involved dozens of crew members.

In the statement, Polson pointed his finger at an unnamed company managing the event. he said: “It is too early to tell what has actually happened here, although it is hard to avoid concluding there has been a terrible and irresponsible mismanagement of Tropfest funds. I and others will be spending the coming weeks and months investigating what has transpired.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1eAflvU84E

However, Polson did not rule out Tropfest returning in the future, saying it would take time to “figure out how we can rebound”.

It is not the first time that Tropfest has been at the centre of setbacks or controversies. In 2006 the screening had to be axed at the last moment due to wild electrical storms.

And in 1998 Fat Pizza and Housos creator Paul Fenech won after entering the contest in a woman’s name because he believed the organisers wanted a female director to take the prize.

vale-metro-screenThe announcement came on the same night that Metro Screen, one of Sydney’s leading spots for film and TV training courses, held its closing party after losing Screen Australia funding following government cuts.

The statement:

TROPFEST PTY LTD announced today that the December 6 Tropfest event will not be taking place as scheduled. Tropfest Founder and Director, John Polson, provided the following statement:

“It is devastating for me to announce today that Tropfest will not be taking place as scheduled in Centennial Park this year.

In the past week or so, I have been made aware that the company contracted to raise the funding and administer the Tropfest event is unable to move forward for financial reasons. Despite a challenging sponsorship climate, Tropfest has done reasonably well in attracting support this year; however, to my great surprise, the management company has informed us that it is unable to proceed.

It goes without saying that this announcement is the most difficult one I’ve made in Tropfest’s 23 year history. My heart goes out to this year’s 16 filmmaking finalists, to our incredible list of sponsors and partners, and of course to our loyal and beloved audience.

It is too early to tell what has actually happened here, although it is hard to avoid concluding there has been a terrible and irresponsible mismanagement of Tropfest funds. I and others will be spending the coming weeks and months investigating what has transpired.

In the meantime, I ask all of Tropfest’s many supporters to bear with us while we figure out how we can rebound from this disaster. Now more than ever this unique Australian cultural event needs your patience and support.”

Tim Burrowes

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