Australia’s biggest short-film festival has been cancelled less than a month before it was due to be held in Sydney’s Centennial Park on December 6.

A dispute with the festival’s management company has forced the festival’s founder and director John Polson to call off the event in its 24th year.

In an announcement on Tropfest’s Facebook page last night, Polson said: “In the past week or so, I have been made aware that the company contracted to raise the funding and administer the Tropfest event is unable to move forward for financial reasons. Despite a challenging sponsorship climate, Tropfest has done reasonably well in attracting support this year; however, to my great surprise, the management company has informed us that it is unable to proceed.”

He continues: “It is too early to tell what has actually happened here, although it is hard to avoid concluding there has been a terrible and irresponsible mismanagement of Tropfest funds. I and others will be spending the coming weeks and months investigating what has transpired.”

In an interview with Fairfax, Polson said that the financial discrepancy was “well into six figures”.

This turn of events does not only affect the organisers and thousands of viewers, but also 450 filmmakers who entered their shorts to the festival.

“I feel terrible for the filmmakers,” Polson said to Fairfax.

“I think it's terrible for anybody who cares about Australian film and certainly the grassroots, emerging end of Australian film because, right now, our future is up in the air. I really don't know what's going to happen."

Tropfest began in 1993 with short-film screenings at Tropicana cafe in Sydney. In that time, its grown to a national cultural event with past judges including Geoffrey Rush, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and Ewan McGregor.

tropfest.com/au