Tropfest saved as new sponsor steps in

The Tropfest short film festival will return in February after CGU Insurance stepped in to fill the cash black hole which originally led to its cancellation.

CGU came forward after organiser John Polson cancelled the world’s largest short film festival, which was due to be held in Sydney today, on November 11 citing “terrible financial mismanagement”. It is understood the festival was hundreds of thousands of dollars shy of being able to cover its costs.

Tropfest returning

However Polson has today announced the festival is back on, and will be held on Valentine’s Day, Sunday February 14.

In a statement Polson said: “It’s incredibly encouraging to see that the Australian public and corporate community really want to see Tropfest return.

“As a free, outdoor event, Tropfest makes short film accessible to all. There’s nothing else quite like it and I think that’s what people love.

“Thanks to the support given by CGU Insurance, we’re now able to restore Tropfest for the filmmakers whose work was put on hold, for our fans and of course for the suppliers and partners who all give so much to make the world’s largest short film festival a reality. It’s the comeback story of the decade.”

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting Polson is continuing to pursue legal proceedings against Tropfest Festival Productions managing director Michael Laverty who handled day-to-day running of the festival.

The original announcement was met with dismay from many film lovers, although some filmmakers were less Tropfest audiencedisappointed.

In an opinion piece for Mumbrella filmmaker Michael Taylor wrote: “Tropfest was known as the festival that required filmmakers to submit unoriginal stories with cheesy dialogue, heavily-inspired low-brow humour and the inclusion of a B or C grade celebrity to be considered for selection.”

The festival  – celebrating short films – began in 1993 as a small event held at Darlinghurst’s Tropicana Cafe and has since been attended by more than 1.6m people and spawned spinoff festivals globally.

Ben Bessell, commercial insurance chief executive for IAG, which owns the CGU business, said: “Tropfest is a great festival, providing unique platforms for talented filmmakers through its events and initiatives, and we are excited to be able to help them get back on their feet,” Mr Bessell said.

“Supporting this fantastic cultural event is about creating a renewed opportunity for Tropfest and all those small businesses associated with the event to continue to thrive and get some business done.”

“It’s also about supporting the wider community who are avid fans of film and entertainment and give them an opportunity to come along and enjoy a free cultural event.”

After the original cancellation many sponsors said they were “disappointed” with the lack of communications from organisers ahead of the cancellation. Seven West Media’s streaming service Presto had offered to showcase the finalists on its platform.

However major sponsors Destination NSW and Screen NSW, Qantas, Nikon, Centennial Parklands, media partners SBS 2, Screen Australia and Nova 96.9 have all come on board for the new date.

SBS 2 will broadcast the festival from 9pm on the night, and all the original finalists will be represented in the competition, while the junior competition for filmmakers under 15 will also go ahead on that day.

Alex Hayes


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