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By Charlie David Page
20th February 2012

This year marks the annual Tropfest Short Film Festival’s 20th anniversary. No small feat for something that started in a small Sydney cafe. Such a milestone did not go unnoticed and this year's festival was choc-full of pomp and ceremony. The evening kicked off with a cavalcade of past and present Tropfest finalists walking the black carpet, as well as the who’s who of Australian (and even overseas) television and cinema. This year's supreme judging panel was a lineup of Oscar winners and even the 2012 Australian of the Year. Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, directors Alex Proyas, Kierran Darcy-Smith and screenwriter Charles Randolph - alongside last year’s winner Damon Gameau, Tropfest Arabia winner Jassem Al Jabbouri and cyber-judge Jason Gann - crowned Alethea Jones and her film ‘Lemonade Stand’ the 2012 winner. Alethea walked away $10,000 cash, a brand new Nikon pack and a trip to the U.S. to meet with industry executives set to kick-start her career. Not bad for a woman who signed up for Centrelink just two weeks ago. Tropfest’s second place went to Rupert Reid’s ‘Boo!’. The ‘cry-wolf’ comedy also took out the Crowd Pleaser award and best male actor for Don Reid. Third place went to the very creepy ‘Photo Booth’ by director Michael Noonan.

A 90,000+ crowd braved the weather as long as they possibly could. The day’s blistering sun turned into as evening of epic lightning and pouring rain during the event's third film. Finalist Marie Patane experienced a case of deja vu weather-wise when this year's program showcased the sequel to her 2006 finalist film, a short that was unfortunately never screened curtesy of a torrential downpour just as Patane’s film was about play and saw the cancellation of the remainder of the event. Luckily the weather didn’t hinder the program at all this year, and all films were screened in spectacular (if only a little wet) fashion.

Tropfest director John Polson ended the night by announcing the addition of Tropfest Vegas to the impressive and growing list of international events including New York, Paris, China, Malaysia and Arabia. And of course no Tropfest would be complete without the announcement of next year’s signature item, without which no budding Tropfest hopeful could commence filmmaking. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, the 2013 TSI is BALLOON.

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