World’s Largest Short Film Festival, Tropfest, Comes to New York

Introducing the cultural phenonenom, Tropfest, a short film festival that originated in Australia. More than 100,000 attendees watch the one-night Sydney event. Tropfest, now in its 20th year, has since added other locations around the world.

But the World’s Largest Short Film Festival hasn’t truly “made it” until reaching New York, and that’s just weeks away.

Next month, Tropfest has its first New York-based and themed film festival. It takes places at Bryant Park in Midtown, and will cost you nothing to attend.

Australia native, John Polson, who now calls Brooklyn home, is the man responsible for bringing Tropfest to NYC. The Tropfest founder, and director of feature films Hide and Seek and Tenderness, is excited to give New York filmmakers their chance to grab the spotlight.

“This is on, we’re here to stay [in New York],” Polson tells FishbowlNY. “Short of a disaster.”

Gotham is no stranger to film festivals, with the Tribeca, co-founded by Robert De Niro. But this is exclusively a venue for short films with the main criteria being that any movie submitted can be no longer than seven minutes in length.

Polson says the more than 120 people submitting films surpasses his expectations.

A panel of judges will make its determination, with screenings of the eight finalists as the festival’s main event. Bringing a touch of “down under,” Hugh Jackman will serve as master of ceremonies.

After introducing New York to Tropfest with a history of the film festival, Jackman unveils the competition.

Polson points out that films must be premiering to qualify.

“And they have to include a signature item, which changes each year,” Polson says.

That first item is a bagel, a quintessential part of New York.

“While it’s a film festival, we try not take ourselves too seriously,” Polson says.

But the organization is serious about awarding prize money. No categories, just one winning filmmaker takes home $20,000.

“One of the things we really tried to do is keep it simple,” Polson says.

Even though entrants can hail from anywhere, Polson is seeing a decidedly tri-state slant. But he adds, numerous films were sent for consideration from across the country and world.

“Tropfest, at its heart, is storytelling,” Polson says. “We ignore budgets. We don’t care whether you made it on a mobile phone or you made it on an IMAX … It’s a level playing field in the truest sense of the word.”

Tropfest New York runs June 21 to June 24.

“We’re planning to pack Bryant Park, which I’m told fits about 10,000 people,” Polson says. “A good problem to have for us next year is Bryant Park isn’t big enough anymore.”