Tropfest 2003 (2003)

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Released 1-Apr-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Various Main Menu Audio
Notes-Info Screen
Theatrical Trailer-2
Biographies-Crew
Featurette-Award Winners And Acceptance Speeches
Featurette-Interviews With Crowd
DVD Credits
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 102:32 (Case: 113)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Various
Studio
Distributor
Stomp Visual Starring Various
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Various


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio Varies
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"The World's Largest Short Film Festival!"
    Created in 1993 by actor/director John Polson, the Tropfest has become one of the world's most important venues for short films. After showing one of his own films at the Tropicana Caffe to a small crowd of people, John (star of Mission Impossible 2 and director of Siam Sunset and Swimfan) decided that a screening of several films in a festival style would be a good idea, but even he could not have envisaged what would come. Over the last decade, thousands of films have been submitted to the festival, which was originally call the Tropicana Short Film Festival before taking on the more familiar name of Tropfest.

    Each successive year has brought a ever-increasing number of films vying for a place on the screen. Over the last several years, the number of films submitted has reached upwards of 700. A mountain of film to judge, but each year 16 finalists are selected for judgement from a select panel which over the years has included Samuel L. Jackson, Keanu Reeves, Bryan Brown, John Woo, Gillian Armstrong, Baz Luhrmann, Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman, Joel Edgerton...the list goes on. To ensure that each film submitted for judgement has been produced specifically for the festival, the Tropfest Signature Item (TSI) is selected each year. In 2003, the item was Rock. The item is different every year (2004 was Hook) and this, along with the 7 minute time limit ensures that only films produced for the festival are entered. It also helps to make the filmmakers be that extra bit creative in their incorporation of the TSI, which is sometimes incidental, other times quite pronounced. Either way, what the festival boils down to is a chance to be noticed for the filmmakers and a great look at an underused form of cinema for an ever-increasing audience. The 2003 crop of finalists is no exception, with a fantastic range of talent showing their wares to an interested public.

    Several major filmmakers have gotten their start by being recognized in this festival, such as Director Gregor Jordan, who directed Two Hands and Buffalo Soldiers and Robert Connelly who later went on to make films such as The Bank and The Boys. This is an important place for those interested in a future in filmmaking to cut their teeth and make a name for themselves. It's also a place for us film enthusiasts to take in some great films and also to remind us that the latest $250 million 3 hour blockbuster isn't the only thing that can entertain. Size isn't everything, and you can pack quite a punch into only 7 minutes. Here below are the final 16 finalists for the 2003 Intel Tropfest. Great fun from those who just may be the future of cinema.

1. Edge of Reality (NSW)   -   7:24
    Directed and Produced by Priscilla Cameron
    Starring:  Troy Planet, Yutaka Izumihara and Bart Smith.

    When a real estate agent is about to close a multi-million dollar deal, things start to go very wrong...and it's murder most foul!

2. Medusa (WA)   -   6:41
    Directed by Pierce Davison
    Produced by Jacob Fjord
    Starring:  Catherine Traicos, James Magnus and Pierce Davison.

    The snake-haired Medusa is looking for love via a video dating service. Can a lonely girl find love in the big city, or will it take some help from above?

3. The Referees (VIC)   -   7:05
    Directed by Katrina Mathers
    Produced by Holly Salmons
    Starring:  Matthew Dyktynski, Angus Sampson, Mike McLeish, Josh Cameron and Tamara Kulkin.

    Before committing to a second date with an possible new love, our man decides to interview his prospect's former boyfriends...all of them.

4. Cha-Chi-Pun (NSW)   -   7:12   (Third Place Winner)
    Directed and Produced by Daniel Pront
    Starring:  Daniel Prypchan, Xavier Canosa, Andrea Leon, Andrew Enriquez, David Duarte and Stephanie Leon.

    When two young friends have to settle a matter, they turn to the Cha-Chi-Pun (paper, rock and scissors). When the matter is of the heart, it can be settled in only one way...

5. Buried (NSW)   -   6:50   (First Place Winner)
    Directed and Produced by Tim Bullock
    Starring:  Clayton Jacobson and Jason Gann.

    Two normal suburban killers have a nasty, stinky body to get rid of. As the temperature rises, so do the tempers of the killers, with hilarious results. By far the best film in this series.
 
6. Forbidden (VIC)   -   7:03
    Directed by Jeremy Angerson and Nadja Kostich
    Produced by Mandi Wight
    Starring:  Esme Melville, Verity Higgins and Hermoine Higgins.

    When an old woman continually wanders from her home against the wishes of her concerned daughter, it's left to the granddaughter to let her escape again. But could there be a reason for her desperate wanderings?

7. Rock Hard (WA)   -   2:30
    Directed by Rob Kiely and Tzadi Kiely
    Produced by Rob Kiely

    When a small collection of rocks come together to make a whole, it's time for fun!  If only he didn't take on more than he could handle.

8. Not What I Expected (VIC)   -   7:00
    Directed and Produced by Timber Dean
    Co-Produced by Marden Dean
    Starring:  Sarah Ward and Simon Rodorch.

    A man and woman meet over the internet and through a radio contest finally meet. Predictably, neither isn't what they had expected. This short is a musical.

9. John "Rocky" Robinson Roll with the Punches (WA)   -   7:00
    Directed by Andelko Jurin
    Produced by Stepanie McBurney
    Starring:  Tim Maricic, Bruce Meredith, Ian Meadows and Renae Foriatti.

    A young boxer fights against incredible odds and a major disability to get into the ring. Can he overcome the doubts of others?

10. Gusto (VIC)   -   6:59
    Directed by Craig Irvin
    Produced by The Victorian College of the Arts
    Starring:  Reg Groman, Rarmian Newton and Diana Emery.

    An old man goes to the beach to catch yabbies and he enlists the help of some young people. All they need is a little 'gusto'.

11. Effective Towel Flicking - Introductory Techniques (WA)   -   4:39   (Second Place Winner)
    Directed by Mike Sharman and Andrew Tomazos
    Starring:  Mike Sharman, Andrew Tomazos, Jason Douglas and Anthony Campbell.

    Towel flicking: not just wicked fun, but a deadly art. Here, in this lesson, you will learn from the masters.

12. Lullaby (NSW)   -   7:04
    Directed by Pat Stevens
    Produced by Nikki Stevens
    Starring:  Raymond Duparc and Joyce George.

    When an older man awakes to find that his wife has passed away in her sleep, he has to come to terms with life on his own.

13. Ground Hero (NSW)   -   7:04
    Directed by Damian McDermott
    Produced by Ben Thatcher and Damian McDermott
    Starring:  Sean Lynch and Nick Flint.

    When a worker at the Ground Zero site finds a body part, he resists the temptation to make a bad taste joke, much to his chagrin.

14. By Night (NSW)   -   7:05
    Directed by Paul Alexandrou
    Produced by Shannon Smith
    Starring:  Adam Ray.

    When a man finds strange patterns of pebbles in his driveway, he begins to suspect something strange is going on. But is it?

15. You Are So Dead (NSW)   -   5:45
    Directed and Produced by Mike Foxall
    Starring:  Sheridan Rusconi, Jessica Carcombe and Jason Woolmer.

    A young schoolgirl is bullied to the point where she bands with the other 'nerds' of her school to hire a hitman to solve their problems. High school can be murder!

16. All Shook Up (NSW)   -   7:01
    Directed by Samantha Rebillet
    Produced by Samantha Rebillet and Richard Brennan
    Starring:  Kan Kidron and Maeve Dermody.

    When a singer who's just passing through town suffers a little car trouble, it's up to a local girl to help out 'the king'.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The quality of the video material provided here is watchable, but does suffer from a number of problems because of the many and varied production methods used to make the 16 included films.

     For the most part, the films are presented in some sort of widescreen aspect ratio, from 1.85:1 to 2.35:1. There are a couple of films that are presented full frame, such as Ground Hero and All Shook Up. Unfortunately, there is no 16x9 enhancement anywhere here which leaves us with a reduced quality image throughout.

     For the most part, sharpness of image is reasonable. As there are so many different techniques used in the production of these films, consistency isn't going to be a strong point, but even the worst quality of the films included is watchable. The film Gusto features the worst transfer of the lot of films here, with an overall look of a pirate copy of a film. Overall clarity is sadly lacking with this film and there is even a pronounced analogue tape tracking error at 4:14. Shadow detail is all over the place, but You Are So Dead exhibits the worst degree of poor shadow detail of this collection as it suffers from some fairly excessive video post production effects. Low level noise is fairly frequent, but it'd be nit-picking to point out every instance as much of the content here was filmed on videotape on a limited budget under various conditions. It's there, but not a huge problem.

     Colour varies from film to film. Some of the shorts are done in black and white, such as By Night, but most are colour features. Colour's commitment to this disc is reasonable.

     You will see just about every film and video artefact with this disc, but again, as the budget for most of these was fairly tight, it would be a bit rough to hammer them for every little flaw. Make no mistake, the flaws are there. Cross colorization is everywhere in Buried, grain is pronounced in All Shook Up, Gusto is just poor all over and I didn't even bother to note all the instances of edge enhancement, but it's the films that are the important thing here and this is probably the only place many of us will get to see them. The only major issue that I have with this is the lack of 16x9 enhancement, but this missing feature isn't unexpected.

     There are no subtitles on this disc (except for the film Cha-Chi-Pun where there are burned in Spanish subtitles).

     This disc is formatted as a single layer, and as such, there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio option here, that being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track running at an adequate 224 Kb/s.

     For the most part I had no problems with the dialogue quality of the films presented in this collection. Sometime there might be a hard to understand word or two and the lack of subtitles didn't help, but this was infrequent and I was able to understand most of the spoken word here. I had no real problems with audio sync here, which is fairly remarkable considering the budgets of the productions.

     The music for the films come from various quarters, each serving their respective films well. The standout music for the entire disc is the song heard in the car during Buried. 'Baby Baby, you got me smokin'. Baby Baby, I'm not jokin'. You know what to do'. Not since Dirk Diggler sang You Got the Touch in Boogie Nights have we heard such great lyrics.

     Using your AV receiver might get you some limited surround action here, depending on the film, but what little is there is of a very limited, atmospheric quality. I didn't hear my subwoofer very much during the program, which was no surprise.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    We get a couple of extras here, but not many with real meat in them.

Menu

     After the normal copyright warnings, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu which offers us the following:

     The Main Menu is presented full frame, animated with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Info Screen - Single Page

     The Info Screen is a single page that gives a brief description of the Tropfest concept.

Intel Tropfest Trailers - 2:36

     These are two trailers made to promote the film festival. As is the case this year, the trailers are quite funny and are in keeping with the fun spirit of the festival. The first trailer is a filmmaker promoting a trailer concept to a Tropfest administrator (1:29) while the second is Bill Hunter in a role the likes of which you've never seen (1:07). These two trailers run together as a single trailer. They are presented at 1.85:1 without 16x9 enhancement and with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Finalist Films and Bios

     These two pages present each of the 16 films with a short bio of the film's creators as well as a short synopsis of each film. Play Movie, Back and Forward icons are available on each page.

Award Ceremony - 4:13

     Russell Crowe presents the prizes to the final 3 films; Cha-Chi-Pun in 3rd place, Effective Towel Flicking in 2nd place and the fantastic Buried in 1st place. This feature is presented full frame with audio in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

Interviews with the Crowd - 1:14

     A very short segment with reactions to the films from the crowd watching them in an open-air theatre in Sydney. Presented full frame with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

DVD Credits - Single Page

     A single page with the DVD's producers and those involved with the interviewing of the crowd segment.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as I am aware, this release is the only one available of these films worldwide.

Summary

    While feature length films will always get the lion's share of attention both in terms of audience and budget to produce them, there is always a place for the short film. Short subject cinema is also a place where young filmmakers can get some experience and hopefully boost them into further ventures in the realm of film production. It also gives us viewers a chance to see something different. This collection is a great watch and the festival's winning film Buried is enough on its own to make this disc one worth getting. Good fun.

     The video is adequate but suffers from various flaws.

     The audio is adequate.

     There are a couple of extras, but not much of really great interest.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Saturday, March 13, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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