Whimsical animation by shire filmmakers opens Tropfest 2017

Filmmaker collective: Nick Baker and Tristan Klein (third and fifth from left) pose with the other Tropfest finalists and Rose Byrne one of the judges.

Filmmaker collective: Nick Baker and Tristan Klein (third and fifth from left) pose with the other Tropfest finalists and Rose Byrne one of the judges.

They didn’t win but Sutherland Shire film producers Nick Baker and Tristan Klein had the privilege of opening Tropfest 2017 and earning good reviews for their animated short-film.

Baker and Klein’s, The Wall, a whimsical but powerful animation narrated by David Wenham, jumped straight into the contested politics of Trump’s America and Australia’s immigration policies by illustrating a family’s need to escape their daily circumstances.

Julian Dennison, who starred next to Sam Neill in the acclaimed Hunt for the Wilderpeople said The Wall was his favourite entrant

‘‘I loved The Wall – it was just greatly executed and the script was perfect to the story," he said. 

’’It was a beautiful story about refugees. It had a deeper meaning behind the story, which is an aspect of all the films I love.’’

Australian actor and filmmaker Matt Day has won the Tropfest short film festival for his dark comedy linking euthanasia with Sydney’s high house prices. 

Tropfest finalist: A still from the Nick Baker and Tristan Klein's animation The Wall.

Tropfest finalist: A still from the Nick Baker and Tristan Klein's animation The Wall.

Well known for his on-screen roles in Rake and Tangle, as well as feature films Muriel’s Wedding, My Year Without Sex and Kiss or Kill, Day is now trying to manage a transition to roles behind the camera.

His comedy, The Mother Situation, stars Day alongside Australian actors Peter O’Brien and Harriet Dyer and centres on a family assisting their mother to die by euthanasia. However it transpires the children have ulterior motives to profit from the sale of her house.

Day said he got the idea at a dinner party where one of the guests spoke about their mother who had chosen euthanasia.

"House prices are at a constant level of chatter in Sydney and so is suicide," he said.

"I heard someone talk about this out one night saying, ’Well he’s going to be fine when his parents die because he’s got the house at Balmain and the place on Pearl Beach’.

"All that stuff just kind of congealed and came together and made me laugh. I just thought, wouldn’t it be funny if they’d all come to their mother’s bedside and she decided not to do it."

Dark comedy: The winner of Tropfest 2017 Matt Day salutes the crowd at Parramatta Park.

Dark comedy: The winner of Tropfest 2017 Matt Day salutes the crowd at Parramatta Park.

Day was elated with the win.

"Just to get into Tropfest was a win," he said. "The plan was to get the film to as many people as possible. I’m elated."

Tropfest fell on a challenging day to re-emerge in Western Sydney. By 8pm on Saturday, when the finalist entries were beginning to be unveiled, Parramatta Park’s temperature was just short of 40 degrees. 

By the second-half of the screenings, Tropfest management estimated the crowd to be upwards of 35,000 – under the former estimates of 50,000, but enough to comfortably fill the festival’s new location and allow a breeze to pass between the picnic rugs of audience members.

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