More Summer Lawn-Sitting: Tropfest


Lawn-sitting at the Domain (a giant park) is becoming one of my favorite things about living in Sydney. There are so many free events where you simply bring a picnic, a blanket, a bottle (or two) of wine, and your favorite friends/partners-in-crime. In exchange, you are rewarded with excellent entertainment in an easygoing, festive atmosphere. If you’re lucky, there will even be a cool breeze.

Our latest round of Lawn-sitting was yesterday’s Tropfest short film festival and, after another day of brutal heat, we were happy to be rewarded with a lucky breeze. Tropfest is one of the largest short film festivals in the world, and has its modest origins in the way trendy Tropicana Cafe, which is just up the street from us in Darlinghurst. Eventually, it got too big for the cafe, and relocated to Rushcutter’s Park (my favorite place to run), and then finally it became so large that it was moved to the decidedly larger Domain.

There were beaucoup Australian celebrities there, but not owning a TV, I must admit that I’m not terribly well versed on famous Aussie actors. One of the judges, apparently a quite famous actor/humanitarian with a mountain man beard (no, not Brad Pitt), appeared to be wildly intoxicated, which was hilarious when he was interviewed and jovially and unsuccessfully tried to make sense of the questions (though, it was a bit sad for the filmmakers he was presumably adjudicating in this state).

There was one person I did recognize, and I was geeking out like a good little theatre nerd when the hosts introduced Olivia-m’f’ing-Newton-John. When I was in high school, Grease was THE WORD, so I was in retro-heaven to be in the same general vicinity with Sandy (and 4,000 of our closest friends).

There were 16 short films screened, all of varying styles and genres. Most were from Australia, and there was one entry from South Africa.

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed in the overall quality of the films, very few of which just soared, if you know what I mean. There was a lot of frat boy humor for unfulfilling easy laughs, a few squishy sentimental bobbles, and a smattering of existential angst. There was some genuine cleverness and depth of emotion, as well. None of them were head above shoulder standouts to me, but there was one that caught something completely visceral in me and the whole crowd. It was this quirky animation piece that just snuck up on you until you were completely drawn in by the unexpected musical/visual charm. A huge cheer went through the crowd when it ended. It was called “Animal Beat Box,” and it was the winner of the festival. Being the peddler of theatrical stories that I am, I would have preferred a winner with more narrative depth, but I can’t deny the hook this little piece has.

Here it is, in all its lovely weirdness:

Had I been a judge (sober or intoxicated), this one would have been my choice. I love the artistry, the story, and how it showcases Sydney:

If you want to see more, all the finalists can be seen here.

4 thoughts on “More Summer Lawn-Sitting: Tropfest

  1. C. In Oz

    Ah! No good about the second video! It worked here when I put it up, but looks like it has since been blocked in Oz. Not very cool, considering it’s an Australian film from an Australian film festival. Boo, Tropfest.

    @Val – I know… it’s addictive, right?

    @Jenny – yeah! I was pretty excited, even if she was really just a speck.

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