Picnic basket packed, wine and blanket in hand three friends and I jumped in a taxi and headed to the Domain for Tropfest 2010 on Sunday. Coming from humble beginnings the event started out as an informal short film screening at the Tropicana Café in Darlinghurst with no more than 200 people attending. Fast forward 18 years and Tropfest is now the largest short film festival in the world.
Having spent the afternoon in Bondi we were running fashionably late and didn’t get to the Domain until 6.45pm for a 7pm start. Finding a small piece of grass amongst a crowd of over 80,000 people was particularly challenging. Trying not to commit social suicide by stomping on eager film goers who’d been camped out since 2pm was equally as hard.
Avoiding dagger stares and doing our best cheesy ‘I’m sorry’ face we managed to wedge ourselves into a small spot in front of the big screen and nestled in to watch the finalists. Hosted by Adam Spencer the crowd was warmed up with red carpet interviews and an introduction to ‘celebrity judges’ including Toni Collete and Elijah Wood.
The films were diverse and ranged from comedy, documentary, animation, musical to drama. Each year a Tropfest Signature Item (TSI) is selected which film makers must incorporate into their film. This year the TSI was ‘Dice’. My favourite films included ‘Fish Lips’ which had an art-house Amelie (2001) type feel, ‘Shock’ (winner) which poked fun at radio shock jock Kyle Sandilands and ‘Every Second Weekend’ which gave us a thought provoking insight into the Dads In Distress community group.
Tropicana Café is often my savior after a big night out. A large chicken salad with tuna instead of chicken and a large coke is usually my ultimate hangover cure. With Tropfest now televised live across Australia and festivals running in New York, this little eastern suburbs gem has produced two amazing feats. It’s amazing to think something so big started from such simple beginnings and where else than Sydney’s east.