The original Tropicana Short Film Festival was started by John Polson, who wanted to create an informal event featuring short film screening for crews, casts and friends in Darlinghurst's Tropicana Cafe. This initial event was enough of a success that John launched the large-scale event that has taken place for 21 years since.

Anyone can enter Tropfest, and out of the average 700 entries each year only 16 finalists are selected to screen on the night. More than $100,000 in prizes is up for grabs in the competition that only allows entries that have been made specifically for Tropfest. All entries must include the Tropfest Signature Item, which in 2014 was 'mirror' - the 2015 signature item has yet to be determined.

In 2015 Tropfest is likely to attract its standard live national audience of 150,000 people - all on a single night. Sydney's Centennial Park is the usual host of the massive showcase, and live screenings occur in other centres around Australia to include the whole nation. Even better, the Tropfest screening is free to attend, and features live music, catering, bars, entertainment and red carpet arrivals from some of the film industry's most valuable players. The winner of Tropfest is selected live on the night, and the festival boasts a stellar lineup of celebrity and industry judges.

Young filmmakers can also enjoy what Tropfest has to offer, with Trop Jr providing a special competition for kids aged 15 and younger. It follows the main event's rules, including the seven minute time limit and inclusion of a signature item. Trop Jr aims to inspire the youth of today to become to filmmakers of tomorrow, and each competition is hotly contested.

The competition has become so popular that international versions of the event now take place in North America, New Zealand, the Middle East and South East Asia. There is no minimum length on entries and you can submit as many as you like. There's also a special APRA Tropscore competition, where entrants produce a synch or musical score for a Tropfest-supplied film clip.

Take a seat and immerse yourself in the very best of short films.

Photo courtesy of James Dennes via Flickr Creative Commons