The world's biggest short film festival, Tropfest, is back on

Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and Toni Collette at Tropfest in 2012.

The world’s largest short film festival, Tropfest, will go ahead in February next year after being thrown a lifeline by major insurance company.

Founder and director John Polson announced “the comeback story of the decade” yesterday – the day Tropfest was due to be held before he was forced to cancel it over financial problem – that support from CGU Insurance will see the festival rescheduled for Sunday, 14 February, 2016, in Centennial Parklands, Sydney.

After 23 years, it looked like the end had come for the hugely popular film festival after a Polson announced the cancellation on November 11 due to financial problems.

At the time, he said “it is hard to avoid concluding there has been a terrible and irresponsible mismanagement of Tropfest funds”.

While investigations into what happened continue, including legal action against the company and MD responsible for managing the festival, a relieved Polson said there had been an overwhelming outpouring of support since he announced the news.

“It’s incredibly encouraging to see that the Australian public and corporate community really want to see Tropfest return,” the festival founder said.

Tropfest in Cententennial Park. Photo: Belinda Rolland.

“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,” he continued.

“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.

CGU Insurance is owned by IAG. Tropfest also has government support via Destination NSW, and Screen NSW, as well as corporate sponsors such as Qantas and Nikon.

The first Tropfest was held in a Sydney cafe in 1993 and now attracts more than 50,000 people for the annual outdoor screening, with the Hollywood star power of the likes of Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Nicole Kidman and Samuel L. Jackson adding to its appeal. Susan Sarandon was scheduled to be the head of the 2015 festival jury, but there was no word of who would lead the panel today.

The event has spread globally to New Zealand, South East Asia, New York and the Middle East, with around 150,000 turning out nationally to watch it live.

SBS 2 will also broadcast Tropfest live from 9pm on February 14.

Along with the Tropfest finalist films, Trop Jr, the Festival’s competition for filmmakers aged 15 and under, will also go ahead on the Sunday.

The Tropfest finalist films will premiere live in Sydney’s Centennial Parklands on Valentine’s Day, Sunday February 14, and will also be broadcast free-to-air from 9pm on SBS 2.

Festival director John Polson (centre) with previous winners

Each year Tropfest entries must contain a “signature item”, a motif that appears in each movie. This year the theme is cards.

Polson said this year’s 16 finalists include documentaries, mockumentaries and animations in stories about an ex World Champion boxer Jeff Harding, unlikely Taylor Swift fans in the comedy trio Colin Lane, David Collins and Craig Anderson, and the cult Sydney 70s punk band Radio Birman.

“This is a line up quite unlike any other screened at Tropfest,” he said.

“The finalists this year have really brought film back to its core element, the art of storytelling. We have 16 very unique films to present to thousands of Tropfest fans around Australia that will have them on the edge of their picnic rugs.”

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