SYDNEY, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- The world's largest short film festival, Tropfest has announced the 16 finalists for 2013's festival to be hosted by Sam Worthington and screening to an estimated open-air crowd of 150,000 in Sydney.
According to organizers, this year's selection is an eclectic mix of experienced and new filmmakers and a diverse selection of genres.
The usual suspects apply for the giant film festival, which has mushroomed from its humble origins, 21 years ago into both a festival with international gravitas and an important part of Sydney's summer.
The only rules for the thousands of submissions is that every film must be under seven minutes long and feature a signature item- - this year a balloon.
The 16 selected films will be screened before a live and feisty audience of almost 150,000 in Sydney's Domain on Sunday, Feb. 17, to be judged by a panel who in the past have included Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor and Geoffrey Rush.
This year Avatar's actor Sam Worthington will be hosting the festival that helped launch his career.
From documentary to animation, with the staple comedy and drama packed in between, Tropfest 2013 is shaping up to be a brilliant showcase of the work of Australia's creative minds.
Already a recognized figure within Australia's competitive adindustry, 20-something Kevin Lim, writer and director of the sinister and eclectic A Pledge to Mister Bunny called the festival the film-makers looking glass.
"If you manage to get through it, the world can become a film- makers wonderland fairly quickly."
Like many of Tropfest's 2013 finalists, Lim's Mr Bunny is innovative and confronting, but the surprising story of a young boy's fateful encounter with a carwash is immaculately, almost pristinely shot and shimmers with a dark, bitter humor.
Lim told Xinhua that while the fast-track shoot was a technical challenge, the film's themes came entirely naturally.
"I can be funny, sure, but really deep, deep down I'm just a fairly dark and bitter man, everyone knows that."
This year's filmmakers have shown incredible dedication to the cause by facing creepy haunted buildings, extreme weather and various run-ins with the authorities, all in the name of independent film.
Locations for this year's finalists include Lim's Twilight Zone carwash; a 19th Century gothic mansion in Katie Wall's Scene 16; an abandoned mental asylum in Matt Cerwen's Inside; the depths of Canadian winter in Tim Blackburn and Lyndal Moody's Monobrow and even dangerous cartel territory in the Mexican desert in Michael Noonan's Remote.
And although Tropfest serves up some of the best films made by talented Australians, this year's film selection features three internationally shot pieces (Mexico, Canada and LA).
The state's Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris, said the NSW Government, through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, is proud to support Tropfest, and reap the benefits of the marketing and revenues that stream from it.
"Tropfest has a long history of success in Sydney, a city that is not only recognized as a UNESCO City of Film, but is also Australia's creative hub," Souris said.
Souris called the festival, launched by Hollywood actor and director John Paulson, a launch pad for filmmakers of all ages.
"Tropfest is an important feature on the NSW Events Calendar, and joins a number of Sydney's fantastic free outdoor events including Sydney New Year's Eve, Sydney Festival and Sydney Mardi Gras Parade."
The winner will leave a richer, more mobile and better-equipped filmmaker in an all-new 2012 Toyota Corolla Levin ZR, holding 10, 000 Australian dollars cash prize, and preparing for a trip to Los Angeles for a week of meetings with film executives organized by Motion Picture Association and the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft.