Tropfest winner a "rip off”?"

A filmmaker has questioned if this year's Tropfest winner is actually a "rip off" of his own video, starting an heated online debate.

John Polson, Tropfest's founder and director, has released a statement, hitting back at the claims.

"In the age of YouTube, it's possible to find almost anything on the internet," the director said.

"Animal Beatbox," by Damon Gameau, took out Tropfest's first prize on Sunday night, including a trip to the US to meet executives, a video camera and $5,000 in prize money.

The winning film uses stop-start animation, showing cut out pictures of animals as their names are rapped and repeated to a beat.

See Damon Gameau on Sunrise

Eustus Comedy, the maker of a film called "Dog Cat," posted his short film in September 2010. Underneath the "Animal Beatbox" film on YouTube, Comedy commented: "is this a rip off of my video????"

Eustus Comedy makes online videos edited and directed by Simon Bennett, crediting "adam and jag kiranmay" on "Dog Cat."

Eustus' comment ignited online debate from other fans of "Dog Cat."

One comment said, "This is a complete rip off of Eustuscomedy's clip posted in Sept. 2010. Tropfest needs to look into this and tighten screenings for finalists. This winner needs to be de-throned. Dislike".

The debate has also surfaced similarities between "Dog Cat" and "The Badger Song," made by Jonti Picking, a British animator.

Despite the claims of plagiarism, many of the comments have been in support of "Animal Beatbox."

"In [sic] the end of the day, Tropfest is about entertaining an audience - and this film did that in buckets. ...As runner-up, I stand behind Damon's film, regardless of structure or genre, it got the loudest applause and deserved the prize. ...Well done Damon," Tropfest runner up and YouTube user Jason Van Genderen commented.

In a statement released by John Polson, he defended the winner: "It doesn't surprise me there are other clips combining animals and music. It wouldn't surprise me, either, if there were similar clips for every one of the finalist films.

"10 years ago this wouldn't be an issue, but with literally millions and millions of clips available now, it's not very difficult to find just about anything."

This is not the first controversy for Tropfest, with a 2009 finalist entry having 'similarities' to a skit from a British Comedy show, as well as Steve Baker's 2007 entry, "An Imaginary Life," having 'similarities' to the American TV show "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends."