Trop Fest is a massive outdoor short film festival that has grown from 200 people in 1993 to 100,000 people in 2013. Within twenty years it’s gone from one screen to three screens plus celebrity judges, musical performances, and a dedicated broadcast on SBS.
Though the stakes have risen, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the winners are the best of the best. That’s what drives me nuts about juried shows; it sometimes feels like a crapshoot. Like most people, I feel my taste is impeccable and I just can’t understand why other people don’t agree.
Had I been a judge, the short film Bamboozled would not have won. It started off with a comical plot: the main character (played by director/producer Matt Hardy) runs into a guy at his bus stop who actually used to be his female girlfriend. They end up spending the whole day together pounding back drinks late into the night.
Spoiler alert: they also spend the night together (as if you didn’t see that coming).
The 5:45 minute mark is where the plot decidedly turns south and into weird homophobic revenge fodder. Even if I hadn’t been offended, the story was not original or interesting enough to deserve the first place prize: $10,000 in cash, a Toyota Corolla, a round trip to LA to meet with agents, and a Nikon D800. I demand a recount of the 700 or so films submitted. Actually, there was a really good finalist film that was completely overlooked: Charades.
Makeover by Don Percy was a decent choice for second place. It was about two retired people getting ready for a first date. They both go to ridiculous lengths in order to look their best- from squeezing into tight clothes to giving themselves a DIY facelift with safety pins. I personally wouldn’t have picked it for second place, but it was humorous and I can’t fault the judges for that.
Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense. Evil to him who evil thinks. This short film by Tom Abood came in third place and was an amalgamation of footage shot while being deployed in Afghanistan. Unlike the film that came in first place, Honi Soit had admirable intentions behind it.
The only problem was that the footage did not have the same gravitas as the patriotic narrative. Abood wanted to pluck the audience’s heartstrings and remind them of how good a life they have, but showing a clip of a soldier giving a soccer ball to smiling children doesn’t visually equate to homesickness and loneliness. Try again.
Although I wasn’t crazy about the winner’s circles, the festival itself was awesome. Great weather, free films, picnic blankets, homemade apple crumble, and red wine. But don’t take my word for it, I have terrible taste. You should see for yourself.
About: Trop Fest