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POLSON, JOHN: BIOGRAPHY

With a couple of feature films in development at the beginning of 2001, John Polson is poised to move yet another notch up the scale of filmmaking success; actor, filmmaker and the founder of Tropfest, in 1997 Polson was one of the youngest to be awarded the Byron Kennedy Award.

John has been a Sydney based actor/director since 1983. He began acting in theatre – The Nimrod, The Sydney Theatre Company and others – until 1986 when he landed the romantic lead in the Kennedy Miller mini-series Vietnam. This was John’s first substantial role on film and gave him the opportunity to work with acclaimed directors John Duigan and Chris Noonan for a shooting period of six months.

It was during this time that John’s interest in film directing began to surface and, with film stock given to him by Kennedy Miller, he made his first short film, An Evening With Herman.

Vietnam was followed by more acting work – among others, roles in Blood Oath starring Bryan Brown and the mini- series Barlow and Chambers with Julie Christie. For these performances John received Australian Film Institute nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor, respectively.

In 1998, John forfeited his savings for his next project; a 10 minute film called Harold’s Retirement. The film screened at several film festivals and has been purchased by SBS TV.

In 1990, John played Hamlet in the debut production of the Bell Shakespeare Company. He toured the east coast of Australia with the show for six months before leaving to do more film and television work. In recent years, John has appeared in Sirens, and The Sum of Us among others. The AFI and Film Critics Circle again nominated him for Best Supporting Actor for his part in The Sum of Us. He was joint winner at the Film Critics Circle alongside Max Cullen and Bill Hunter.

In 1995, John wrote, produced and directed a short film called, What’s Going On, Frank? It premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in February and has since been at Sydney Film Festival (Voted Most Popular Australian Short), St Petersberg, St Kilda (Opening Night), Montecatini, Ankara, Exposure, Frames, Film West (opening night), Brisbane, Chicago International Film Festival (Winner –Silver Plaque), and many more. Frank was sold to television networks throughout Europe and the USA as well as to the ABC in Australia.

In February of each year, John takes on the role of the Festival Director at Australia’s largest national short film festival, Tropfest. John founded Tropfest in 1993, an event that showcases the work of young filmmakers from around the Australia which attracts audiences of 80,000 in Sydney’s Domain and Victoria Street. Tropfest is also screened live to venues in other capital cities in Australia. In November 1997, he received the Byron Kennedy Award for his contribution to the Australian film industry. John is also the Founder of TropNest, a writer’s centre situated on the Fox Studios lot in Sydney.

John made his directorial debut in feature film in 1999 with Siam Sunset, releasing in Australia in the same year. The film has been included in an array of international film festivals. Soon after the completion of Siam Sunset he was back acting, this time in John Woo’s Mission: Impossible II.

Published February 15, 2001

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