After announcing Tropfest’s demise last year, only to see it rise from the ashes courtesy of a lifeline from South Pacific Pictures, the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust announced on Wednesday that it wouldn’t be going ahead with a 2018 edition.
The event has struggled in Taranaki, where there isn’t a substantial base level of screen industry activity. Despite that, TAFT has worked hard to promote the event and establish it as a regular feature of its event calendar, as it did with WOMAD. The financial model for Tropfest, which is free to attend, is more difficult to sustain than WOMAD. In 2016 the original Tropfest, in Australia, almost went belly up itself.
Tropfest here has attracted some pretty good filmmakers in competition, and considerable goodwill from industry members acting as ambassadors and judges, including John Barnett, James Griffin, Martin Henderson, Michael Hurst, Oscar Kightley, Sam Neill, Gaylene Preston, Robert Sarkies, Taika Waititi, Vincent Ward, Jennifer Ward Lealand, Sara Wiseman, and Katie Wolfe.
Despite that support, it hasn’t managed to build to anything like the number of entries made for 48Hours each year.
For NZ filmmakers who’d been comtemplating entering Tropfest this year, organisers say Tropfest Australia will accept international entries.
Tropfest Founder and Director John Polson thanked the team at TAFT and said, “I urge all filmmakers to continue making films and sharing them wherever possible. I have great faith that we will be back in New Zealand in the future.”
Top image: Tropfest NZ 2017 winner: The Anniversary, by Mary Rinaldi and Sasha Nixon
Disclaimer: SCREENZ editor Keith Barclay has been a pre-selection judge for Tropfest NZ for a number of years.