Gasps of fright, murmurs of confusion and bubbling laughter filled the Bowl last night as thousands of people watched New Zealand's inaugural Tropfest.
The film festival was open to any Kiwi with a good idea, a camera, and an interest in making a seven-minute film that contained the specified item - a gumboot.
Last night saw the screening of the top 16 films as Taranaki joined the likes of Australia, New York, Las Vegas and South East Asia in having its very own Tropfest.
Tropfest creator John Polson opened the show by saying how pleased he was to have it at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands.
"It's the most beautiful that Tropfest plays in anywhere in the world. It's unbelievable.
"I could not be more excited about such a wonderful place to play these wonderful films."
The films spanned a variety of genres, but those with a little humour tickled the fancy of the crowd - and it was a funny Taranaki film that ultimately won the judges' favour.
New Plymouth team Touching Cloth and director Dave Smith took the award for best film for their musical Cappuccino Tango - a "coffee love story" shot at Ozone Coffee Roasters (see video below).
Taranaki Arts Festival Trust chief executive Suzanne Porter said she was thrilled a Taranaki team had taken the top spot.
"There was no voting from Taranaki either so it won all on its own merit."
She said the judges had liked that there was something different about the film.
"The said it was quirky and different and using song to tell the story was different too."
It had been a great night for the first New Zealand Tropfest, she said.
"We were blessed by the weather gods, and the technical side of things went perfectly."
Tropfest would be returning to Taranaki again next year, she said.
Mr Polson announced 2014's feature item would be glasses and said it had been a fantastic night.
"I sat down here in the front row and was amazed all over again by the quality of these films."
Ms Porter estimated as many as 8000 people had laid down their rugs and jackets to watch the free show.
"It was a decent crowd. It was definitely more than last year, we're very happy."
Those who went along to view the movies were happy too.
Sisters Demelza, 19, and Daria Law, 20, from New Plymouth said they thought the festival was excellent.
"The films are amazing. There's a really good vibe here."
Olly Burgess, 23, from the United Kingdom, said the festival lived up to the standard of Tropfest overseas.
"They were pretty dark. The way they chose to portray them was a bit dark, but good though."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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