Kyra Clarke is a Lecturer based in the English and Media Studies department at Massey University, New Zealand. Her research intersects the areas of feminism, affect, pedagogy and queer theory, exploring a range of popular textual forms, particularly film and television. Her monograph Affective Sexual Pedagogies in Film and Television was published by Routledge in 2017.
Volume 38, May 2018
Following its resurrection in 2016, Tropfest, self-described as “the world’s largest short film festival”, was critiqued for the lack of female directors in the list of finalists, and the lack of women depicted in the films. Over the years, Tropfest has been criticized for the content of finalist films and choice of winners, homophobia, licensing of the films entered, as well as the impact of the competition on Australian short filmmaking in general. Despite this, much of the media surrounding the 2017 festival was positive, noting a significant increase in female finalists to ‘half’. While increasing attention to the gendered structures and practices of the industry (including the Tropfest competition) is important, we also need to pay attention to the gendered content of the competition films, which continue to privilege men and masculinity. In this paper, I compare the 2016 and 2017 winning films, to consider how ‘everyday’ issues of gender and masculinity play out in the representation of the festival and particularly the content of the films. This is considered alongside Trop Jr, the festival for people under 15 years, which has received less critical attention but is significant for thinking about long term change.