From humble beginnings in small, Sydney cafe, Tropfest has become the largest short film festival in the world, showcasing the talent of emerging Australian filmmakers.

The festival began in the early 1990s when John Polson approached Serge, the owner of the Tropicana Caffe, to screen his short film for cast, crew and friends. The film, entitled Surry Hills: 902 Spring Roll, drew an amazing 200 people.

Inspired by the turn out, John decided that a short film festival was the next step. In 1993 the Tropicana Short Film Festival was born.

In 2002 a record 611 entries were received and the screening now spans the nation.

Tropfest encourages production, not just exhibition. Each year, a Tropfest Signature Item - TSI - is announced in the months leading up to the festival. Each film entered must include the TSI to demonstrate the film was made specifically for Tropfest. The TSI takes whatever form the filmmaker chooses in relation to their film and/or the message/story being told. This year it was a match.

Over the years Tropfest has attracted an amazing array of film personalities and respected industry types. Judges have included: Nicole Kidman, John Woo, Samuel L Jackson, Baz Luhrmann, Keanu Reeves, Sam Neill, Ewan McGregor and Jane Campion. This year Carrie-Anne Moss judged the competition.

Tropfest remain committed to maintaining the festival as a free event. This means they are constantly reliant on sponsorship dollars. In 2002 software company Intel, became Tropfest's first naming rights sponsor. Some people may think that having a corporate sponsor attached to the name detracts from the festival's "indie appeal." Let's just hope focus remains on the films and not dictated by sponsorship obligations.

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