Less than a month after being cancelled due to alleged financial mismanagement, the iconic Tropfest short film festival has been thrown a much needed lifeline. On the very day that the festival was originally meant to take place, Tropfest founder John Polson has announced the event will instead be held on Valentine's Day next year, after securing a last minute sponsorship deal with CGU Insurance.
"It’s incredibly encouraging to see that the Australian public and corporate community really want to see Tropfest return," said Polson, who was forced to cancel the festival after discovering what he, at the time, called "a terrible and irresponsible mismanagement of Tropfest funds." No word yet on whether the CGU deal extends beyond this year, or whether it will help Polson cover the festival's six figure debt.
Details on how the money was actually lost likewise remain unclear, although it's worth mentioning that Polson is currently engaged in legal action against Tropfest managing director Michael Laverty. He told the Sydney Morning Herald that "in my opinion, we've done nothing wrong but respond as best we can to a terrible situation brought about by bad management." Polson also took a swipe at the lack of assistance from the NSW government, saying "many people have asked what has the NSW government done since this crisis…the truth is not a lot at this point."
"Tropfest is a great festival, providing unique platforms for talented filmmakers through its events and initiatives, and we are excited to be able to help them get back on their feet," said Ben Bessel, Commercial Insurance Chief Executive for IAG, which owns CGU Insurance. "Supporting this fantastic cultural event is about creating a renewed opportunity for Tropfest and all those small businesses associated with the event to continue to thrive and get some business done."
In recent years Tropfest has attracted a national live audience of up to 150,000 people along with hundreds of thousands more via live TV broadcast. Polson confirmed that all 16 of this year's finalists will make their premiere as planned – albeit a few months late – live in Sydney's Centennial Parklands on February 14. Trop Jr., the festival's competition for filmmakers aged 15 years and under, will also go ahead.