Tropfest 2013 Winners or Losers

I haven't watched all of the Tropfest videos from this years' collection, but I did have to watch the top three after reading negative reactions towards the winning film in the Sydney Morning Herald today, which piqued my interest to this year's awards.

In years past I would be very eager to see Tropfest, as there would always be some great films on it, and I aspired to create such a filmatic work one day, yet somewhere down the track I didn't think I was capable of it. Nonetheless, there is plenty that Tropfest can bring us. This year's topic was 'Change'.


SYNOPSIS: No matter what changes, love is forever.

The winning short film 'Bamboozled' has been accused as being homophobic as well as transphobic. Knowing the many negative reactions to the film, I watched it while trying to keep an open mind.

While I did not think it was as bad as those on social networks claim, I admit the film was not for me and left a bad taste in my mouth. Thanks to comedian Josh Thomas, we can understand that homophobic and/or transphobic people are what are depicted as the bad guys here, but this message is complexly tucked away. Unfortunately it is difficult to see past the concept of 'bamboozled' into the deeper meaning — that there is no shame in homosexuality or being transgender, and yet the rest of the cast ridicules the main character as he squirms not from shame of what he's done, but how he's being treated by the rest.

I rather liked the way 'Bamboozled' started; the acting was good, the filmography was interesting, and I give a nod to their use of sound particularly during the middle section of the film. Just when it seemed to be going in a good direction, it left the audience with a sour taste in their mouth. But such is the fate of controversial films, I suppose.

With this understanding of the movie, I can be satisfied with their win, however I have to hand it to the runners up who managed to finish up without that sense of humiliation, but end on a high note.

Bamboozled: Main character waits for a bus at the start of the film

Honi soit qui mai y pense

Honi soit qui mai y pense
SYNOPSIS: War is always told differently from a soldier’s perspective.

While 'Bamboozled' was more a film that called for Change (in my opinion), these other two films approached it in a sense of 'going through change', whether it was breaking long habits to do something new, or entering an entirely new environment so that it changes the way you are.

My favourite was 'Honi soit qui mai y pense' (embedded above) simply because it was so honest and poignant (particularly because it was told from the first person perspective), and inspiring, reminding us to appreciate. Even if you don't like the army or otherwise, you can appreciate the message — it's easy to take this life for granted.

It wasn't particularly arty — there were no special effects, there was no interesting angles for which he took shots, it was all shot in the same way, with the voice over and soft piano music muting the sounds of that world, making it partially surreal to us. It was well paced, and reminded us of the friends, family, nomatter how distant, that risk their lives out there.

Time to give you an intense makeover

SYNOPSIS: Spring is in the air… and it’s time for a change!

MAKEOVER, the second place winner, was also wonderfully done, providing much needed comedy which at times made you wince and squirm in your seat because of how painful you imagine it to be. The feeling of reality we are handed at the start of the film slowly fades into a sense of everything on the screen being completely surreal. The twist at the end was also particularly amusing.

This film certainly employed some interesting angles and effects, showing us but not telling us, pacing out their sound effects and sequencing their shots magnificently. A comedic feeling was present from the start, and this film is great for someone needing some smiles over one old man seeking a new beginning. Yet at the same time, it leaves us wondering at the end, what really happened?

Well, now that I've watched these winning short films, I think it's time for me to go and see the rest of the finalists and what wonders they managed to create. Perhaps they will reinforce my opinion on those I've already seen, or perhaps I will feel that there was a gem that was overlooked among the rest.