Tropfest

It’s a very odd thing that I have never been to Tropfest. The world’s largest short film festival which originated in the Tropicana Cafe in Darlinghurst still survives 20 years later and last night, was host to over 90,000 people at the Domain this week.

Really, I just wanted to go because I can’t surpass a good opportunity to eat bread and cheese alongside a bottle’o woine, but the free movie bit was also appealing.

The weather had threatened all week to ruin my cheesy dreams, but it miraculously let the sun shine the entire day and kept the temperature bearable all night – somehow it knew. By the time we got there at about 5pm it was pretty damn packed. After waving our hands in the air like gitts trying to locate our friend who was already there as we communicated over a poorly connected phone, we decided to take a seat right by the VIPs (apparently we weren’t allowed in there…whatever). Picnic blankets spread, plastic wine glasses out, cheese board cheesed – we settled in for the night.

It was amazing to see how many people you happen to run into at an event like this. Out of a crowd this big, it’s funny how the entire North Shore just migrates like a pod of whales off to mate for the season. It was lucky that this was the case as it took forever for the films to actually start. My friend had told us it started at 6pm but I don’t think we’ll be using her as our fact checker again.

Kate Miller Heidke played a few songs which was quite a delight. Yumi Steins and Adam Spencer hosted straight off the teleprompter. Notable judges included Sam Worthington (“Paint me blue and have alien sex with me” – an actual quote from our fact checker mentioned above in reference to Sam’s Avatar movie), Rebecca Gibney (Packed to the Rafters) and Magda Szubanski (Sharon Strzelecki from Kath and Kim – but she doesn’t need an intro, right?)

I won’t go through all the films but they were fantastic. Check them out here if you missed it. The object that each film had to have in it this year was a balloon. The constant murmurs after most films of, “Where was the balloon?” obviously shows how sneaky these directors can be.

Best entries (in my expert opinion): Better than Sinatra by Jefferson Grainger which bought back memories of a school excursion to the MCA all those years ago where the subject of this film pretty much dirty danced with one of my classmates, Let it Rain by Matt Hardie – all that needs to be said here is “Piss Bomb” and The Pledge for Mr Bunny  by Kevin Lim which is pretty cute the entire way through, until the ending which actually had me *GASP!* Batman comic book style.

The eventual winner was We’ve All Been There by Nicholas Clifford which was shown as the last film of the night. It was a very nice film for sure and obviously a hit with the judges. Did leave me wondering when someone was going to pay $1,000 forward to pay off my debts though. 

Highlight of the night doesn’t come in the form of a D-grade celebrity spotting or a tingling sensation that one of the films provided to me, it came from one of the trusty drunken patrons intent on ruining everyone’s night (there’s always one, or two, or three).

At one point during a movie we hear the crowd behind us making a mix of fox whistles and “Move ya dickheads!” noises. So we turn around and basically right behind us are a couple macking on each other as though one of them had just arrived home from war, but it wasn’t cute like that would have been. It was gross. Ass grabbing, tongues flying everywhere, the guy giving the finger to everyone around whilst making out with this girl – it as all very classy. So this goes on for about a minute and then the couple split, one heads one way, the other in the opposite direct – did they even know each other?

About 20 minutes later, we look 25 metres to our left and it’s Mr Kissalot standing and berating the entire crowd behind him. “Fuck this, and fuck that!” he kept saying (a bit inaudible from where we were), flailing his hands and middle fingers in the air. Eventually, and I do mean eventually because it took them a bloody long while, security came and forcibly removed the man. From nowhere, the girl from the kiss is running after him trying to get security off him and beginning a game of kisschasey with the hooligan. Was this supposed to be one of the short films? If not, it should have been.

Another 20 minutes later, we see the same guy who had somehow gotten back in, removed again with Kissy La La running after him and attacking security. I’m not a judge but I give them a 10 out of 10 performance for their attempt to be complete assholes for the entire night.

I will definitely be attending Tropfest again next year, although I think they’ve changed the venue and date to sometime in December. I’ll figure it out! I can see the cheese and bread alreadyyyy….

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