Tropfest 2015 Cancellation Poses Question -- Is This The Beginning Of The End?

12/11/2015 12:47 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 07: Spectators watching a short film at Tropfest 2014 on December 7, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images for Tropfest)

Tropfest fans and finalists will have to find something else to do on December 6 this year, with the announcement the world's largest short film festival has been cancelled due to an alleged "a terrible and irresponsible mismanagement of Tropfest funds".

Despite the recent reports from Mumbrella that streaming service Presto has offered to showcase the 16 finalist films on its platform, it still doesn't alleviate the profound disappointment and frustration from filmmakers and festival fans alike.

Tropfest founder and director John Polson has referred to the decision as "the most difficult one I've made in Tropfest’s 23-year history," and has promised he and others "will be spending the coming weeks and months investigating what has transpired".

Polson is reportedly taking legal action against the event’s managing company, which he has declined to publicly name.

Fans of the festival have voiced their shock and frustration at the abrupt cancellation, with many calling on potential benefactors or crowdfunding websites to step in and assist with what Polson described as a funding shortfall of "well into six figures".

Others were less sympathetic, questioning how such a huge financial loss could be revealed only weeks before the festival was due to take place, or expressing concern on behalf of the 16 finalists.

Nicholas Cox, producer of the 2014 winning film 'Granny Smith' described the news as "devastating" and wondered if the festival could recover after such a fall-out.

This comes after Tropfest was almost cancelled last year due to severe Sydney storms, pulling crowds of only several hundred as opposed to 2013's record breaking turn out of 95,000.

"If it doesn't go ahead this year and starts losing traction -- people aren’t going to be as willing to enter," Cox told The Huffington Post Australia.

"It’s tens of thousands of dollars and months and months of work, making these films. I don’t even know how I’d feel.

"The fact it may not go ahead at all -- I'd very probably start submitting my entry to international festivals. In saying that, Tropfest films tend to have a very particular look or feel and traditionally don't appeal so much to the bigger festivals overseas.

"I feel for the top 16 filmmakers. I hope they can move forward and their films don’t sit there dormant until [Tropfest] figures it out."

Michael Ciccone, producer of the February 2013 winning film 'We've All Been There' had higher hopes.

"Of course it's a shock," Ciccone told HuffPost Australia. "I mean it’s a festival that has withstood some pretty traumatic events in the past, such as relocating to a better time and place and facing constant challenges with the weather.

"I think Tropfest is an incredible brand, and John is an extremely resilient person.

"If there’s a way to dig the festival out of this hole he will."

The Huffington Post Australia has approached Tropfest for comment.

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