As we stood at the black carpet anticipating host Hugh Jackman‘s arrival at Tropfest, a massive outdoor short-film festival held on Saturday in Bryant Park, we eavesdropped on a conversation held behind us between three robust fans of the actor. “I came all the way from Wisconsin to see him!” one of the women screeched to her companions. ”Yeah? Well, I got this custom shirt made,” another woman said, pointing to her shirt with a giant portrait of Mr. Jackman printed on it.
Tropfest originally started in Australia and has spun off into several other countries, and Saturday was the American debut. Tropfest’s founder John Polson discussed the festival with The Observer. “It’s really a celebration and an event more than a festival,” he said. “Geoffrey Rush has called it as close to rock and roll as filmmaking gets. It’s free, and the afternoon is amazing and has everything, even live music. It’s really unlike any film festival.”
At least ten thousand film lovers waited on blankets and lawn chairs, anticipating the arrival of the guest celebrity judges—Rose Byrne, Judah Friedlander, Jennifer Westfeldt, Ted Hope and Scott Foundas—and the screening of over a dozen short films.