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Tropfest winner bamboozles the LGBT community

The winning short at this year's Tropfest film competition has caused a huge stir on social media with many calling Bamboozled homophobic and transphobic.

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Short film festival Tropfest has found itself embroiled in controversy after a comedy about gay sex was named best film on Sunday night.

Upset film fans took to Twitter and Facebook to express their disappointment at the judges' decision to give Bamboozled the top award, while former NRL star Ian Roberts said the film was degrading and homophobic.

The duo get drunk together in the film.

The duo get drunk together in the film. Photo: Screen grab

"I'm blown away," Roberts, who is now an actor, said. "It's so embarrassing ... it's so degrading ... so transphobic and homophobic.

"Imagine if you'd done this with an Asian person or an Aboriginal person. There's no punchline there, that's totally unacceptable. But with the gay community, it's still OK."

But gay comedian Josh Thomas defended the film, by director Matt Hardie, in which the main character is reunited with a former lover, Helen, who has undergone a sex change and has become a man. After an alcohol-fuelled evening, they end up in bed together before a camera crew bursts in and the whole thing is revealed as an elaborate prank, complete with the real Helen laughing her head off.

Bamboozled: the TV crew enter the bedroom near the end of the film.

Bamboozled: the TV crew enter the bedroom near the end of the film. Photo: Screen grab

Thomas said on Twitter that the film was not discriminatory.

 

 

 

Hardie won best film, as well as best male actor alongside co-star Aaron Tsindos. 

He said Roberts had "missed the point" and brushed off social media criticism. "As I made the film I was expecting that some people would be offended — naturally. Whenever you make anything about a sensitive topic there will always be some people, regardless of context will find it offensive. And I can understand that."

When asked of the transphobia and homophobia in the film, Hardie points out that "for a start there's not even a transgender character in the film" and acknowledges the "characters could be considered homophobic, but they're the bad guys".

The twist ending is what Hardie says is the most misunderstood. "What's uncomfortable is a heterosexual man going somewhere he's never thought he would go, and then all of a sudden being on national TV. He's not uncomfortable because he's homophobic. He's uncomfortable because he's never done it."

Hardie compared his work to that of Chris Lilley and hit cartoon series South Park, defending the place of his film in the genre. "I don't have a responsibility to change what I've made. If you're making edgy comedy, there's always stuff there that's going to offend people. If we're always worried about who we're offending, we're never going to make anything decent. Everything's going to be watered down and bland."

Roberts said he "loves" Tropfest but this year's judges "got this so wrong. And not only did you get this wrong, you've actually put the lives of people dealing with their own sexual identity at risk.

"There are kids out there that aren't dealing with their sexual identity — and things like this can be a tipping point. This is the worst type of film that any kid like that could watch," he said.

The theme for this year's event was change and Hardie said the idea for the film came randomly one day when he was out walking.

The judges were director Kriv Stenders, actor Susie Porter, producer Bruna Papandrea, director-stuntman Nash Edgerton, Harvie Krumpet creator Adam Elliot and the man who announced the winner, Legally Blonde director Robert Luketic.

Hardie's film beat Don Percy's Makeover, a comedy about an old man getting ready for a blind date after his wife's passing, and Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense, a haunting first-person recollection of fighting in the Australian Army by Tom Abood. 

Tropfest founder John Polson was unable to be contacted for comment.

 

 

 

 

 

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