Using his Sydney Film Festival Telstra mobile phone prize, newly signed up ADG member Jason van Genderen made a 3 ½ minute film about Sydney and New York’s homeless that has not only created Tropfest history, it reduced celebrity judges to tears, and won two major awards.
Despite drizzling rain, New York film fans braved the weather to see eight films – from around the world – screen against the dramatic riverside backdrop of the Statue of Liberty. The judging panel included renowned producers, writers and actors such as Billy Crudup, Julliane Moore and our very own Rhada Mitchell and Nash Edgerton.
Australian film makers Jason van Genderen (Director), Shane Emmett (Producer) and John Roy (Composer) became the toast of the Big Apple last weekend with their short film, ‘Mankind is no Island’, a film which challenges our understanding of homeless communities.
Their prize win includes $US20,000 cash, return flights to New York plus an exclusive ‘first look’ picture deal with a major NY film production house. “If history is anything to go by, the opportunities after winning Tropfest go well beyond the festival itself – past winners have gained significant leverage into feature films and television series... we certainly don’t intend to waste this opportunity” said Shane Emmett.
The film, largely a visual narrative utilising found words from street signs of NY and Sydney, not only became the first ever ‘mobile phone’ movie to make it into the finals of Tropfest, it was also the first film to ever win both ‘People’s Choice’ and the coveted ‘Best Film’ awards.
"We are thrilled about the turnout and the crowd’s response to this year’s films", said Tropfest founder and director John Polson (Hide and Seek, Swimfan). "Jason’s film really exemplifies what Tropfest is all about – original, unforgettable storytelling."
Arriving back from New York today, the boys are looking forward to sewing the seeds of their recent success, with a controversial documentary about the world’s battle to save the Tasmanian Devil and a radical new thriller/feature film. The duo will this week team with three previous collaborators, Gavin Banks, Greg Hall and Brian Dyer to launch ‘The Treehive’, a brave new film production incubator developed to foster indie film and television projects.
“We never imagined winning both ‘People’s Choice’ and ‘Best Film’ awards... we were simply stunned at the reaction to our little film” commented Jason “We had audience members coming up to us afterwards actually thanking us for making such an emotive and heartfelt film, about part of our society very misunderstood... it was just extraordinary, quite moving really!”
The film is available for viewing online via YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/tropfest