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Stars Outshine Lightening for Tropfest’s 20th Birthday

Alethea Jones, from Melbourne won Tropfest’s 20th Birthday competition.  Jones’s film “Lemonade Stand” was awarded first prize by a stellar judging panel of Oscar Winners - Geoffrey Rush, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and acclaimed actresses Toni Collette and Asher Keddie.  
Australian directors Alex Proyas and Kieran Darcy-Smith, visiting New Yorker - screenwriter Charles Randolph, Tropfest Arabia Winner Jassem Al Jabbouri and 2011 Movie Extra Tropfest winner Damon Gameau also sat on the judging panel.  
One of Tropfest’s biggest success stories - ‘Wilfred’ creator, writer and actor Jason Gann weighed in live from the US to cyber judge before casting his vote via satellite. 
Tropfest Founder and Director, John Polson says, “Lemonade Stand is an incredibly well made film and a favourite amongst the judges.  There was intense discussion in the judging room, and some really interesting debates. Alethia should be very proud to have been selected by some of the industry’s greatest  talent.”
Jones says, “I signed up to Centrelink two weeks ago, so this changes everything for me.”
Second prize went to actor Rupert Reid from Sydney for “Boo!” – the story of an elderly couple who take a joke one step too far with deadly consequences.  “Boo!” also took out Best Male Actor with Don Reid’s great performance, as well as the Telstra Crowd Pleaser Award.
Third prize went to “Photo Booth” by Queenslander Michael Noonan. The story tells of three soldiers who find a photo booth in a war torn landscape that reveals their shocking fate. 
Best Female Actor went to Kate McNamara for her unrehearsed one-day performance in “Kitchen Sink Drama” about a proposal gone wrong. 
Two time finalist Marie Patane won the Women in Film Award for “How Many More Doctors Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb”, starring past finalist and actor Rob Carlton, and Trop alumni Jason van Genderen as cameraman.
Early in the evening APRA Tropscore winner Ben Allen, picked from over 900 entries, played his winning score ‘Again’ live to more than 90,000 film fans, he walked away with 5K cash.
Tropfest 2011 runner up, Jason Van Genderen took out Tropfest’s mobile category, Telstra Mobile Masterpieces. Van Genderen also won Tropfest New York in 2008 with a mobile film made on just $50. He’ll also take home $5K.
Tropfest delivered a glittering red carpet affair, with amazing weather until a lightning storm set in as the films got underway.   
Legendary filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and his “The Great Gatsby” star Tobey Maguire took a well-deserved break to join the world’s largest short film festival screening.  They were joined by many of the industry’s movers and shakers including Josh Lawson, Gia Carides, Steve Bisley, Chris Lilley, Rachael Ward, Joel Edgerton, Michael Caton and Rob Carlton. 
Hard core festival goers braved the weather to sit out all 16 finalist films, which were screened regardless of the rain. Judges and industry guests watched from the Tropfest marquee as the show continued on. 
Tropfest’s overall winner takes home a prize booty of $10,000 from Kennedy Miller Mitchell, a money-can’t-buy trip to LA to meet with film industry executives, agents, and managers and a brand new Nikon D800 and lens prize pack.
The 2013 Tropfest Sigature Item (TSI) ‘BALLOON’ was announced by Polson. Also announced were two more exciting global expansions for Tropfest: Tropfest New Zealand and Tropfest Vegas.
The Vegas festival will kick off in June this year with parties and screening events showcasing the best Tropfest films of the past two decades.  The festival will include a panel of film industry professionals and celebrities who will judge the top 12 films and declare a winner.  
If you missed out on seeing all the live action on the night, films are available for download on Bigpond Mobile or tune in to MOVIE EXTRA on Saturday 25 February for a MOVIE EXTRA Tropfest special from 1.30pm (AEDT). Hosted by Adam Spencer and Julia Zemiro, you’ll have a chance to view the finalist films including the winning film of Movie Extra Tropfest 2012, and all the red carpet action. 
Don’t forget to pick up a copy the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 25 February for the 20th anniversary DVD of the Tropfest finalist’s films.
For an insider look into Movie Extra Tropfest 2012 don’t forget to check out Top of The Trops, each night at 8.15pm (AEDST) from Monday 20 February – Wednesday 29 February, hosted by Renee Brack and featuring interviews with all the finalist filmmakers.

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