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Damon Gameau’s Animal Beatbox has won the top prize at the 19th annual Movie Extra Tropfest - in front of crowds of 150,000 nationwide and a live broadcast on Movie Extra to hundreds of thousands more.

Judges included Bruce Beresford, Olivia Newtown-John, Jack Thompson, Xavier Samuel, director Stephan Elliott, producer Liz Watts, last year’s Tropfest winner Abe Forsythe and Tropfest Founder and Director John Polson. Surprise judge, UK actor Joseph Fiennes, contributed live from Majorca, Spain before casting his vote online. 

The winning film is a venture into animation by Underbelly and Balibo actor Gameau, with a catchy lyrical and poetic narrative. The film was shot in his mother’s spare room for just $85 and on a liquid detox diet with his girlfriend by his side – and they are still together. “I’m quite new to stop animation, but I find it a quick and versatile way to express any idea that may be lurking in my head,” he says.

Added to the prize list this year is a trip to Abu Dhabi to judge the first ever Tropfest Arabia - announced by Polson during the evening. Gameau also wins a trip to LA to meet with agents and film industry executives, a brand new Canon digital video camera valued at $10,499, as well as $5,000 cash, and the kudos of winning one of the world’s most popular film competitions.

"an interesting and unusual film"

Polson says Animal Beatbox literally reverberated throughout the crowd. “It’s such an interesting and unusual film, unlike anything I have seen. The crowd reaction was incredible. It’s the sort of film that’s difficult to describe – an animated poem – that somehow resonated with the huge audience,” he says.

Polson announced “lightblub” as the Tropfest Signature Item (TSI) for Tropfest’s 20th year saying it was the ideal TSI for the big anniversary since “Tropfest is all about the strength of the idea.” 

Max Tropscore winner Sam Wyatt played his winning score “She’s the One I Want in My Life” live onstage to welcome Tropfest’s purple carpet. Wyatt, from South Australia, took home $5,000 cash and will have his score played on rotation on MAX music channel. 

Steve Baker used animation to take out the Telstra Mobile Masterpieces mobile filmmaking category with “Following”, proving you don’t need sophisticated camera equipment to bring home a prize. Baker, from Queensland, wins $5,000 cash and a trip to the Sundance Film Festival to meet industry heavyweights.

Tropfest’s purple carpet was a star studded affair: Andrew Denton, Cheree Cassidy, Chris Lilley, Rachel Ward, Mick Molloy, Pia Miranda, Damian Walsh Howling, Sacha Horler, Tara Morice, Sybilla Budd, Conrad Colby, Gracie Otto, Dieter Brummer, Emma Lung, Diarmid Heideneich, George Houvardas, Leeanna Walshmen, Gigi Edgley, Luke Ford, Matilda Brown, Rebel Wilson, Ryan Corr, Tim Pocock, Todd Lasance and Rob Carlton swanned on it.

Tropfest will be replayed on Movie Extra on Saturday 26 February from 12.30pm -2.30pm (AEDT), hosted by Adam Spencer and Julia Zemiro.

All finalist films are available on the Tropfest YouTube Channel http://www.tropfest.com.au and comes free on DVD in the Sydney Morning Herald and Age on Saturday 26 February 2011.

1ST PRIZE – WINNER – Damon Gameau “Animal Beatbox” (New South Wales - North Bondi)
A round trip to LA to meet with agents and film industry executives and then on to Abu Dhabi to be a judge at the inaugural Tropfest Arabia 2011 , presented by Tropfest and twofour54. The new Canon XF305 professional digital video camera (valued at $10,499 RRP), presented by Canon Australia, and $5,000 Cash, presented by Kennedy Miller Mitchell

2ND PRIZE RUNNER UP – Jason Van Genderen “The Unspoken” (New South Wales – Gosford)
$3,500 Cash, presented by ACMI Australian Centre for the Moving Image

3RD PRIZE – Adam Anthony “Maestro” (New South Wales)
$2,500 Cash, presented by Dendy Cinemas

WOMEN IN FILM AWARD – Ana Maria Belo “Things to Do” (New South Wales - Dulwich Hill)
$2,000 cash plus $1,000 worth of Dermalogica product, presented by Dermalogica

BEST MALE ACTOR – David Collins “Silencer” (New South Wales – Eastern Suburbs)
$3,000 Cash, donated by Nicole Kidman

BEST FEMALE ACTOR – Kate Worsley “Y2GAY” (New South Wales - Summer Hill)
$3,000 Cash, donated by Nicole Kidman

TELSTRA MOBILE MASTERPIECES WINNER – Steve Baker “Following” (Queensland - Sherwood)
$5,000 Cash and VIP trip to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah including economy flights, 5 nights accommodation, transfers and $500USD spending money (valued at $13,000), presented by Telstra

MAX TROPSCORE WINNER- Sam Wyatt “She’s the One I Want in my Life” (South Australia - West Lakes Shore)
$5,000 cash, courtesy of MAX, opportunity for his score to go on rotation on MAX, score will be included on the 2011 Tropfest DVD, free with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age next Saturday

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY - Tony Gardiner “The Maestro” – New South Wales

BEST EDITING - Matt Bird “A Desperate Deed” – New South Wales (Erskineville)

BEST SCREENPLAY - Michael Weisler “Missing Her” – Victoria (Melbourne)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE - Jared Underwood “A Desperate Deed” – New South Wales

Published February 24, 2011

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Damon Gameau

Olivia Newton John and Jack Thompson

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