Tropfest questioned by NSW Department of Fair Trading over competition entry fees

The Department of Fair Trading is set to ask questions of the organisers of short film festival Tropfest around whether they will refund more than $18,000 in entry fees to entrants following the cancellation of the event this week.

Tropfest-468x311Tropfest’s organisers this week refused to answer questions about whether it will refund more than 400 entrants who paid to enter the competition, with the NSW Department of Fair Trading confirming: “NSW Fair Trading is currently making enquiries into the cancellation of Tropfest.

“Anyone who has made a payment to enter the Tropfest competition can contact Fair Trading to lodge a complaint at or by calling 13 32 20. Affected consumers who paid by credit card can also contact their financial institution to check eligibility on applying for a charge back.”

Around 400 filmmakers have paid $45 each to enter the competition, while many have also paid thousands of dollars to make their short films.

When told about Fair Trading’s involvement the organisers of Tropfest issued a statement saying: “Tropfest is looking into options for the films and filmmakers who entered this year.

“There has been a lot of good will received over the last couple of days that will hopefully help to achieve this. Tropfest is happy to address the questions around the entry fees as quickly as possible.”

Finalists in this year’s competition have told Mumbrella that so far no-one has even contacted them to even formally inform them that the 2015 competition has been called off.

Writing on Triple J’s The Hack website Ange McCormack explains about how after being shortlisted: “We popped the champagne, we told close family and friends, we started planning the big night.

“That was last week. Since then, Tropfest has been cancelled—or at least that’s what I found out when I saw the news pop up on Wednesday night.

“Tropfest’s statement on Facebook seemed like a really crap joke. Festival founder John Polson said the show couldn’t go on because of a “terrible and irresponsible mismanagement of Tropfest funds. How does the world’s largest short film festival lose track of so much money?”

McCormack then goes on to question the lack of communication writing: “What I do know: I still haven’t been officially contacted by Tropfest about the news or what’s happening next. Apart from being unofficially notified by a former employee, I’ve been following news and rumour mill updates like everyone else.”

Entrants are not the only ones to not have been contacted with many of the event’s sponsors also complaining that they were not contacted before Wednesday night’s announcement. 

Many yesterday publicly expressed their “surprise” and “disappointment” with the sudden axing of Australia’s best known public film festival.

In the announcement, Tropfest’s founder Polson pleaded with sponsors to “bear with us”, while acknowledging the decision to cancel the event was a “disaster”.

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

Nic Christensen 


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