tropfest

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1 🍍 Simon Baker and Rebecca Rigg at Tropfest 2006 (The Domain, Sydney Sunday 26th february, 2006) Photographer: Belinda Rolland

2 🍍 Simon Baker, John Polson and Alethea Jones at an exclusive screening of the finalists and winners of TROPFEST Film Festival at Linwood Dunn Theater at the Pickford Center for Motion Study on March 13, 2012 in Hollywood, CA.

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we finally got it all right

for DeanCas Tropefest 2016
written by superhoney
art by Izulkowa


This is my first time with challange like that and i had a lot of fun doing this and working with my lovely and talented author. She is amazing! Go read her fluffy and absolutely perfect story, you won’t be disappointed!

Summary:  Dean and Castiel are roommates. They’re best friends. Things are great the way they are. Except for the part where they’re in love with each other, but they’re both too scared to ruin their friendship by admitting it- until one night of lowered defences and lowered body temperature turns into something neither of them was expecting.

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WATCH IT UNTIL 4:20.

WATCH IT UNTIL 4:20.

JUST DO IT.

OH MY GOSH!!!!!

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THE SNATCHER - Tropfest New York 2013 Finalist (TSI “Bridge”) (by TROPFEST)

the most adorable thing ever!

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Chairlift - Cha Ching (new song!) live @ Tropfest NYC 2013

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Just watch it. Trust me. 

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TW: Fat shaming

So this Tropfest entry came up on my facebook feed, and even from the still above I knew it would be bad, but turns out it gets worse!

For those that can’t view it (or don’t want to) the premise of the video is a woman waking up from a night out of drinking and realising she has slept with *shock!* a fat man. This, of course, is disgusting and she must escape before he wakes up which means she literally cuts her arm off. Yes, the moral of the story is it is preferable to cut your arm off than be with a fat person.

(We’ll put aside the rapey undertones of sex while drunk)

Notfest.

After the recent winner of Tropfest caused a huge amount of disgust and disdain amongst the filmmakers I know, a friend of mine said ‘Listen guys if we are gonna complain about the lack of good film festivals we should just go out and start one.’

Tropfest started in a cafe in Sydney and was merely a screening of John Polson’s own film (plus a few mates films, but he awarded first place to himself anyway?) and now is the world’s most widely broadcast, accessible, and mainstream short film festival.

It’s also a tight knit boys club of previous winners, a plethora of racism, sexism, and homophobia, and shows a severe lack of change in the Australian film industry. 

So - why not start a new festival?

Queer, feminist, films. Not a queer festival. Not a feminist festival. An open festival that rather than broadcasting films of equality towards a specific audience, it presents them as the norm.

A festival where the writing and the style takes merit over the punchline or the accessibility to a mainstream audience.

I know how to start, and I know where to start. With a website, a facebook page, a twitter account, someone to jack up the social media. With a quirky venue and great pics as a campaign. A handful of second-rate sponsors to get us through the first year. An open call to young filmmakers all over Australia.

Direct contact with minority communities such as the queer, the disabled, the POC, the feminists, anyone else who is tired of not seeing themselves represented on the big screen. Represent yourself. Make these films. 

Just an idea, anyway. I’ll probably do nothing with it, unless I find support from enough friends and filmmakers. 

Tentatively called Notfest. Just because it’s not Tropfest.

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So all this talk of Bamboozled and how it was homophobic and didn’t deserve to win and it wasn’t very good and so on…

Here’s a short film that wasn’t those things and entered into Tropfest last year and it didn’t get in. So I am not entirely sure what the standards are but here it is anyway…We made this about a year ago so here I am marking the anniversary by posting it again.

It’s called ‘Anything Could Happen’ and it’s about two people who meet in a doctors waiting room. 

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THE SNATCHER - Tropfest New York 2013 Finalist (TSI “Bridge”) (door TROPFEST)

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As Tropfest (the worlds largest short film festival) airs for another year, my mind keeps clicking back to this amazing film last year called Cargo. It’s so horrifically sad and beautiful and wretching and it’s a FREAKING ZOMBIE film. If you haven’t, you NEED this.

Tropfest

For those who don’t know, Tropfest was on last night! With a crowd of 95,000 people, it was a lot of fun. It was also my first time attending in person.

Each Tropfest has a theme: something to be included in the film to ensure it was actually made for Tropfest. This time around, the theme was incredibly broad. Change. Good luck making a short film which is not somehow about change.

The night began with a lot of forced enthusiasm. “You can do better than that!” the presenter would shout, eliciting an equally lackluster cheer from the crowd who was at this point focused on getting nicely baked.

When that was all over, the films began. We opened with a delightfully dark comedy, Sorry Baby, featuring a couple experiencing emotional and financial hardship who wind up murdering a debt collector. I actually really liked this one, and was pleased to see a comedy featuring a lesbian couple where that was not a punchline. In fact, it was not even mentioned. I would soon learn that this kind of level representation was something not to be taken for granted.

The night’s winner, a film called Bamboozled, was aired next. It was clearly a comedy, and begins with Pete waiting at a bus stop, listening to music. Harry arrives on his phone, and quickly interrupts Pete. Harry then launches into a lonely trip down memory lane, leaving Pete baffled.

Cue the first laughs as Harry introduces himself to Pete as Helen, one of Pete’s exes. For a Sydney dweller, Pete is surprisingly clueless until Harry clarifies that he’s had a sex change. Well, that’s a lot clearer now.

The two decide to get a couple (dozen) drinks, and what follows might have been a really sweet romance. Following a montage of meaningful touches, longing gazes, and playful wrestling, the two wake up in bed together. As Pete is trying to explain that he’s quite confused following this encounter, Harry reveals that, in fact, he was never known as Helen, and that Pete is the victim of a televised prank, the object of which is for his real ex, Helen, to get back to him by tricking him into sleeping with a guy.

This is followed by a solid minute of laughter as a camera crew enters, followed by a furious Helen. They point and laugh as Harry rolls away with the blanket, and the camera gets a close up of Pete’s arse, as Harry gleefully exclaims “you banged me! You totally banged me!”

Now, you may think this sounds funny. A lot of problematic things are funny. That doesn’t mean that I can no longer think they’re deeply problematic. This is problematic in four main ways, and we’ll address them in turn.

Misrepresentation of Transition

This starts when Harry introduces himself as Helen. He actually lets this go on for a fair while before supplying Pete with his real name. I won’t say this would not happen, but it’s made clear that Harry transitioned quite a while ago, and I know no one who would introduce themselves in this manner.

When Pete comments that he had no idea Harry was considering transition, Harry responds that neither had he. It took him completely by surprise, then one day he said “stuff it” and went out, got the surgery and took all the hormones, and there he is. The decision to transition usually comes after years of heavy consideration. It is generally accompanied by a lot of uncertainty. And no one just goes out and “gets the surgery and takes the hormones”. You may spend a few months trying to get the hormones, then a couple years taking them before you can think about any surgery.

The fact that Harry appears to have Greek and Jewish features (Helen later appears to bear very little resemblance to Harry) is brought up and quickly explained away: “it is amazing what they can do these days!”. This seems to be the only thing amiss about Harry’s appearance which makes sense later in light of the deception.

Why is this important? Because no one really seems to understand how transition works, or what it can do. The idea that one can just go and transition on a whim is real. There was no thought given to the fact that Harry and Helen seem to have very different ethnic backgrounds, that Harry is a good deal taller than Helen, that her body has seemingly transformed in ways one would not really expect of hormones.

More than anything, it betrays the amount of thought those involved put into the idea of making a film which could easily be seen as exploitative of trans people. They may have hired a trans man to play the part, but they didn’t. They may have looked into what transition for men entails, but they didn’t. They may have done some research into the surgical options available for trans men, but judging from the toilet scene, they didn’t.

Consent

This one’s pretty obvious. Pete was tricked into sleeping with someone, and everyone thought this was hilarious. The person who tricked him into bed faked an emotional history, lied about his motivations, and lowered Pete’s inhibitions with alcohol.

After this, Pete was publicly humiliated. He was filmed naked without consent, in front of people he had not consented to being naked in front of.

This was pretty obvious. I don’t like that this was made light of, but this does somewhat gel with the director’s defense that the whole thing was a critique of reality TV or homophobia or whatever one he thinks will get him out of controversy.

Homophobia

The homophobia here is pretty obvious. Helen had eleven years to think of a good way to get back at her ex, and the resources of a TV show to pull it off.

The worst thing she could think of in this time? Trick him into sleeping with a guy. And then show the world how he slept with a guy. Wow, that’s so embarrassing! Could you imagine sleeping with a guy? That would just be the worst!

Transphobia

This is the biggest one for me, because I feel many just won’t think about it.

To start with: trans people are not punchlines. We’re not jokes. We’re not comedic devices. Making a film in which the comedy rests on someone being trans (or seeming to be trans) is just shitty.

My biggest gripe here comes the morning after. Pete’s obviously uncomfortable. He’s confused. This is obvious. Then, when it’s revealed that Harry is not, in fact, trans, it instantly becomes humiliating.

Why? Because, oh wow, Pete just slept with a guy. Before that reveal, he’d only maybe slept with a kind of guy, right? I mean, a trans guy is still kind of a girl, right?

Now, you might say that it was the camera crew that made it humiliating, and that’s very true. However, they clearly thought that they could trick Pete into sleeping with a “real” guy by presenting him as a kind of grey trans guy.

This world is pretty dangerous for trans people. In the next year, dozens of trans people will be murdered, at least. In the next year, a handful of these will be properly investigated. And someone will use the defence that they were tricked into sex with, or just being attracted to, a trans person. This film monopolised on this trope big time, and that is not only disrespectful, it’s downright dangerous.

In Conclusion

Of course, those involved are saying that detractors are missing the point. No, I got the point. I got the point about reality TV. I just noticed the crowd around me laughing for all the same reasons they would had this been real. I noticed very little more awareness than is present in actual reality TV.

And I don’t think this excuses your exploitation of trans people. You could easily have done something making some tired point about reality TV without anyone saying they’re trans. You didn’t.

Bamboozled was horrible. I’m not surprised it was made. I had hoped for more from the judges, though. There were several other brilliant films this year. I thought Revive deserved a place, and Off the Meter managed to be funny, respectful, and quite topical. Ariel was a simple and heartbreaking film. These films deserved more recognition than they got, and instead we rewarded someone for a boring trans/homophobic rehash of the old trap trope.