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By Mellissah Smith

SOUR Grapes, the short film festival conceived by three friends over a glass of wine and hosted last year in a suburban pub, is to receive premier billing in a week-long screening at Sydney’s Fox Studios.

Organisers of Sour Grapes have struck a three-year agreement to stage the emerging film festival throughout Fox Studios, the home of Australia’s burgeoning film industry.

This year’s festival is to open with six days of public screenings and allied film workshops and will culminate in a gala finals evening in the Fox Studios Show Ring on Saturday, July 20.

Entries have opened for the festival, which is characterised by its unique judging criteria.

Films entered have to be 10 minutes duration or less and can not have made it into the finals of Australia’s major established festivals – Tropfest, Flickerfest or St Kilda Film Festival.

Aspiring filmmaker Michael Lawrence, one of three organisers of Sour Grapes, says the move on to the Fox Studios lot is a huge vote of confidence in the festival.

“We know hundreds of eligible films are out there and by partnering with Fox Studios we now have an unbelievable outlet to showcase and nurture the emerging talent contained within them,” says Michael.

“We are nothing more than a bunch of aspiring young filmmakers looking for a break and Fox Studios has given us that.

“Now we want to share the experience with anyone else trying to get into the industry.

“Rather than have young filmmakers out there withering on the vine, the Sour Grapes concept helps us harvest the next crop of talent.”

Michael says he is expecting about 200 entries, each of which will be screened over the six nights leading up to the gala finals evening.

Three venues within Fox Studios’ Bent Street – the Fox & Lion, One World Sports Bar, and The Sony Site – will host film evenings for the six nights starting from July 14.

Established film industry participants will host workshops as part of each evening’s entertainment.

“These evenings are a key part of Sour Grapes,” says Martin Lewis, a former child actor and one of the three founders of Sour Grapes.

“We are huge supporters of all of the film festivals but we have learned from experience that when you don’t make a final of a festival it is hard to say thanks to all those who collaborated on the film project.

“Inviting participants and friends to public screenings helps overcome that problem.

“Also, it provides those who are interested in pursuing careers with workshop and networking opportunities to help them develop their talent.”

Filmmakers embraced the Sour Grapes concept when it was launched last year in a one-evening festival at the Forresters Hotel in Surry Hills.

Fifty entries were received and guest judges including actor Michael Caton (The Castle), director Chris Noonan (Babe) and producer Glenis Rowe (SBS TV) supported the event. More than 1000 people attended the evening and another 1000 were turned away as the venue couldn’t accommodate them.

Entries for this year’s event close on June 15 and details are set to be posted at. Judges will be announced closer to the event.


Martin Lewis: Has been involved with many aspects of entertainment from age seven when he was ‘discovered’ and began acting. Up to age 16 he worked for numerous international production companies including Disney, Spelling and many Australian leaders, earning himself “Best Youth in Film” award in Los Angeles in 1984. In 1996, Martin pursued a professional dance career and travelled extensively with the Australian Ballet Company, Sydney Dance Company and others internationally. Musical credits include The Boy from Oz, Chicago and Westside Story. Also director of two companies developing international entertainment industry business and intellectual property.

Michael Lawrence: The inspiration of Sour Grapes following five unsuccessful attempts to make the finals of Tropfest. After the fifth attempt and under the influence of his favourite red he got a bad case of sour grapes. Reckoned there were hundreds like him. 10 weeks later staged the first Sour Grapes festival with Martin and Nick. Not bad for a guy working full time in a senior management position with a major sunglasses company.

Nicholas Cook: Graduated from UTS with a Bachelor of Business Degree in 1989. Met Michael while studying at UTS. Nick's marketing background has been varied, with most people in Australia having bought products that he has marketed over the years. Despite now holding a senior marketing role in a leading Australian organisation, Nick has also lent himself to the film industry through acting in a series of short films - notably all of Michael Lawrence's productions. Awarded Young Australian Businessman of the year in 1995, Grand Finalist in The Australian Financial Review's Management Championship in 1997 and 1998.

For more information:

Mellissah Smith
Media Relations
P 02 9247 8047
M 0412 994 994

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