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John Polson was born at Paddington Women's Hospital in Sydney in 1965 to Marie Francis and Ron Polson, a piano player and jazz singer respectively. In his early years his ambition was to become a saxophone player, but he was seduced by acting at age 17. He performed in the theater for the next few years but soon moved into television and film. By his mid-20s he was directing his own short films and started a festival in Sydney called Tropfest (after its premiere venue, the Tropicana Cafe). Simultaneous to Tropfest's explosive success, John directed his first feature film, Siam Sunset (1999), which launched his directing career. He continues to have a hand in the running of Tropfest, which now reaches over 150,000 people live on a single night in February each year - and countless more via television and the internet - but his primary focus is his directing career. He is mostly based in the US but visits Australia several times a year.