GEORGE TOWN, Jan 8 — Four Malaysians, including a teenager from Penang, made the cut to join 12 others as finalists for this year's Tropfest Southeast Asia (SEA).
The 16 entries will be screened for “live” judging during the short film festival this February 1 and be in the running for the Tropfest SEA trophy and a cash prize or US$12,000 (RM42,120).
The finalists won a cash prize each of US$500 (RM1,755) which will be presented to them during the festival.
“We have a drop in the number of entries but we received better quality entries this time and this festival continues to give exposure to a lot of young Southeast Asian directors,” festival managing director Joe Sidek said at the announcement of the 16 finalists at Hin Bus Depot Art Centre today.
The short film festival debuted last year and received 180 submissions but only 12 were selected as finalists while this year it received 115 submissions.
Of the 16 finalists this year, four are from Malaysia, five from Cambodia, five from Philippines, one from Singapore and one from Vietnam.
Joe said despite the lack of film schools in Cambodia, the budding film-makers there are already producing very high quality films.
Cambodian Polen Ly, who was Tropfest SEA 2014 first runner-up, also made the finalists list.
The 25-year-old said he never expected anything when he submitted his winning piece last year — Duetto.
His short film last year was a poignant piece telling the story of a romance between two disabled people.
This year's entry — Colourful Knots — is about the knots of friendship that are tightened by different colours.
Polen said he wanted to make something to show love and compassion especially in a time when there is so much anger, violence and war in the world.
One of the youngest finalists is 19-year-old Penangite Tan Yong Lin.
The animation and visual effects student said this is the first time he is joining an international short film festival.
He spent four months, with the help of his college friends, to plan, shoot and edit his short film titled Wheel Rolling Home.
His entry is a stop motion film about the journey of a bicycle wheel which he said is taken from his life and personal experience.
The three other short films selected from Malaysia are Emma's Birthday by Nicole Goh, Tank by Kar Keng Shu and All That Could Have Been by Caston Chua.
The finalists' short films will be screened and judged “live” on the night of the festival by a jury that includes award-winning cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
There is also a plan to rebrand Tropfest SEA to Tropfest Asean. “Tropfest Southeast Asia will be a great way to connect Asean countries through the arts as Asean is looking at a different vehicle to connect its member states,” Joe said.
Tropfest SEA is part of the global Tropfest festivals worldwide that spans New York, Abu Dhabi, Sydney and New Plymouth in New Zealand.
The short film competition is open to all citizens and residents of South-east Asia which will culminate in the free-to-attend festival at Esplanade here at 5.30pm onwards on February 1.
There will also be a series of film-related events in the lead up to the festival night such as a two-night film showcase at Hin Bus Depot Art Centre on January 28 and 29.
The highly popular film forum, Roughcut, is also back this year at Hotel Jen from 9am to 6pm on January 31.
The programme lined up for the forum includes a two-hour masterclass by Christopher Doyle and international speakers from Motion Picture Association Asia Pacific, Association of Indonesian Film Producers and Astro.
Tropfest is the world's largest short film festival which is also dubbed as the world's first truly global film festival.
Tropfest started in 1993 with a screening for 200 people in a cafe in Sydney, Australia but has now grown into the largest platforms to showcase short films in the world.
For more information on the events lined up in conjunction with the festival here, click here.