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Rudy Kurniawan film goes into production

A documentary film charting the rise and fall of convicted wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan is in production and set to be complete by the end of 2014, according to producers.

Convicted wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan

Production teams in the UK and France have joined forces for the film, named Sour Grapes. It aims to ‘follow the footsteps of Rudy throughout the wine world’, director Jerry Rothwell told decanter.com.

One of the UK’s leading documentary distributors, Dogwoof, has this month been signed up to handle pre-sales in the country. It is still early days, but there are also plans for a US release.

Burgundy winemaker Laurent Ponsot opened up his winery for filming and has been actively involved in the process, said Rothwell, who attended Kurniawan’s trial in New York last December.

Domaine Ponsot’s wines, such as its Clos de la Roche, were among those replicated by Kurniawan in the kitchen sink of his Los Angeles home. Ponsot himself gave evidence in court that helped to convict the Indonesian national of making, selling and attempting to sell more than $1m of fake wine.

Rothwell said Sour Grapes is intended for a mainstream audience, despite the niche appeal of some wine-focused films. ‘Everyone loves a con, and that side of this story is really compelling,’ he said.

In portraying the rise of Kurniawan and his supposed ‘magic cellar’ of rare wines, the film aims to depict a ‘collision of two worlds’ by cutting between rural Burgundian vineyards and the high-rolling lifestyle of fine wine drinkers in New York.

Rothwell said that he and producers, from both Met Film in the UK and French firm Faites Un Voeu, have spoken to ‘key players’ in the tale, including ‘most of the people involved in the trial’. He declined to give specific names.

This is Rothwell’s first foray into wine, having previously worked on projects with UK broadcasters, including BBC and Channel 4, and on a range of relatively small-scale documentary films, including Donor Unknown, Town of Runners and Heavy Load.

‘My wine knowledge is limited but growing rapidly,’ Rothwell said, having become interested in Kurniawan around the time of his arrest in March 2012.

Written by Chris Mercer

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