Press Release from Cardinal Spin

Tropfest Australia’s winning filmmaker, Damon Gameau, and girlfriend, actress Zoe Tuckwell-Smith, are enjoying some of the spoils of Gameau’s 2011 win, jetting off to Abu Dhabi this week where Gameau will judge the first ever Tropfest Arabia short film festival competition on Friday 04 November.

Held in the evening on the UAE’s glamorous Al Sahil beach, Gameau will join Tropfest Director and Founder John Polson who is jetting in from New York. The line up also includes Arabian celebrities arriving from across the region to judge the 12 Tropfest Arabia finalist films.

A whopping six Egyptian films have been selected, as well as two from Iraqi entrants and one each from filmmakers from Oman, Morocco, Lebanon and the UAE. Several of the finalist films were first time filmmaking projects. Of the 12 films, only two are in English. Luckily for homesick Australian film fans in Abu Dhabi, though, all films will be subtitled in English.

The finalist films will be made available on Tropfest’s official YouTube channel immediately after the competition – around noon AEDT on Saturday 5th. The winning Tropfest Arabia filmmaker takes home an incredible booty of $12,500 in cash, a trip to LA to meet top film executives, and a trip to Australia to judge Tropfest’s 20 Birthday competition in February.

Tropfest Founder and Director, John Polson, says he’s delighted to see the event expand to the Middle East. “Tropfest is turning 20 next year in Australia. Giving birth to a brand new sister festival in Arabia is a great way to celebrate.”

“Tropfest Arabia has already proven to be a success; we’ve had entrants from aspiring filmmakers all over the Middle East. The first year has been a great indication of the passion for filmmaking in the region. At Tropfest, we say ‘everyone has a story to tell’. That means there are 381 million stories across the Middle East and North Africa region, where Tropfest Arabia draws its entries from.”

“It’s been fascinating to be invited into the worlds of these diverse filmmakers. I’m really looking forward to seeing the audience reaction in Abu Dhabi, and love the idea that film-lovers in Australia – and indeed throughout the world – will also be able to share these stories almost immediately afterward,” he says.

Since winning Movie Extra Tropfest Australia 2011, Gameau’s winning animation short, Animal Beatbox, has been screened at festivals around the world, winning the Special Jury Recognition Prize at the Aspen International Film Festival in April this year. It was also handpicked by documentarian Michael Moore to screen at his Traverse City film festival in Michigan, in July.

Gameau says, “I’m excited to see what stories the finalists of Tropfest Arabia have to offer. To see how Tropfest translates across the ocean.”

The twelve Arabian finalists were selected from more than a hundred entrants by Polson and his Arabia c-director, Egyptian comedian and actor Ahmed Helmy, based on their creativity and originality.

As per Tropfest the world over, films must be no longer than seven minutes including titles and credits; contain the Tropfest Signature Item or TSI – “Star” – for Tropfest Arabia, and must not have screened previously in public.

Tropfest Arabia runs in partnership with Abu Dhabi based media agency twofour54, with the aim of showcasing local filmmaking talent from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

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