Oz Tropfest draw mob to see shorts

'Amore,' 'Datsun' take nods as 40,000 take in 1-night event

SYDNEY — An estimated 40,000 people turned out to watch 17 amateur short films at Sydney’s Tropfest Sunday, making it the largest one-night film event Down Under.

Tropfest has also become one of the industry’s coolest events with a who’s who of Oz acting, directing and producing fighting it out for tix to the VIP tent.

Those to make it included thesps Hugo Weaving and Bryan Brown, helmers Gillian Armstrong (“Oscar and Lucinda”) and Jane Campion (“The Piano”), and, oddly enough, U.N. chief arms inspector Richard Butler.

Judges, including helmers John Woo (“Face/Off”), Ana Kokkinos (“Head on”) and Sam Lang (“The Well”), thesps Sam Neill and Rachel Griffiths, and Film Fest selector Pierre Rissient, named “Uno Amore” best picture.

Produced by Anton Perry and directed by Jason Forbes-Watson, pic concerns two babies who fall in love. Best comedy was Bryan Moses and Craig Anderson’s “Life in a Datsun,” which at a cost of $51 was also the cheapest film.

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There were a record 380 entries this year, all made especially for the fest by incorporating a designated prop in the action. One year it was a pickle, another a bent spoon. This year it was chopsticks.

Actor John Polson (“The Sum of Us”) started Tropfest seven years ago by showing friends a short he’d made at the Tropicana Cafe. The next year, a crowd watched through the window. Then, screens were put on the street and the fest took off to the point where crowds forced it to expand into nearby park before outgrowing that and this year moving to outdoor concert venue the Domain. Rupert Murdoch’s cabler Foxtel beamed the shorts to cafes around Oz and there are plans to simulcast the fest in London next year.

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