Tropfest has been cancelled just weeks before its scheduled date because of a financial problem.
The event, which is funded mainly by corporate sponsors has become a centrepiece of Sydney summer activities over two decades and is the world’s largest short film festival, was to be held on December 6th.
Tropfest Founder and Director, John Polson, said the company “contracted to raise the funding and administer the Tropfest event is unable to move forward for financial reasons.”
Polson said it was “hard to avoid concluding there has been a terrible and irresponsible mismanagement of Tropfest funds”.
Polson added: “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.”
He said he and others would be investigating what happened. The full statement is here.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports Polson put the financial problem at “well into six figures”.
Polson was “not suggesting there’s any impropriety” but that he found it “hard to conclude anything other than there had been “mismanagement”.
Major sponsors for Tropfest, according to the event’s site, include Qantas and radio network Nova which is owned by Lachlan Murdoch.
Other official partners and sponsors include Uber and Spotify.
From the SMH, emphasis added:
“It’s like being in a bad dream,” [Polson] said. “This is 23 years of work. It’s a stunning, shocking blow, with really no hint of what was to come.”
More than 450 filmmakers entered shorts this year and the finalists had been called ahead of an announcement next week.
Hollywood star Susan Sarandon had also agreed to the head of the festival jury.
“I feel terrible for the filmmakers,” Polson said. “I feel terrible for the audiences.
“It’s terrible for the sponsors. And I think it’s terrible for anybody who cares about Australian film and certainly the grassroots, emerging end of Australian film because, right now, our future is up in the air. I really don’t know what’s going to happen.”
What a disaster.
Tropfest grew from screenings of short films in a Sydney cafe to a fixture of the city’s summers, with thousands attending screenings of the short films in the Domain parklands. Each year Tropfest entries must contain a “signature item”, a motif that appears in each movie.
The event has been well supported by Australian and Hollywood stars, with judges ranging from Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman to Keanu Reeves and Samuel L. Jackson.
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