‘Duke & The King’ screening scheduled for 30A Songwriters Festival

Published: Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 09:57 AM.

The untold story of Santa Rosa Beach resident and music great Duke Bardwell is now being shared through a new documentary film entitled “Duke & The King.” Quickly gaining audience acclaim on indie film circuit, the documentary will be screened at the 30A Songwriters Festival on Saturday, Jan. 19 and Sunday, Jan. 20 at the Seaside Repertory Theatre. Part documentary, part concert film, “Duke & The King” tells the story of Bardwell, one of the great, unheralded talents in American music. Bardwell’s story demonstrates what can happen when the right words and music come together to alter destiny and, in doing so, offer a shot at redemption.

The film made its world premiere in 2012 at the Nashville Film Festival, was screened to a packed house at Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival in August, and won “Favorite Feature” at the recent SoAl Film Festival in Mobile, Ala. Next stop, a special screening at the 30A Songwriters Festival in January.

“It’s very gratifying to see and experience how audiences react to Duke’s story,” says Kris Wheeler, the film’s co-director, and a resident of Canton, Ga. “The response has been great, but it’s been a long time coming. We actually started the project back in 2006.”

“Duke & The King,” which is Wheeler’s second feature-length documentary, reveals a powerful story of the danger in meeting one’s hero, especially if your hero becomes your boss and your boss happens to be the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

“This is a story that is ultimately about the power of songwriting. Screening ‘Duke & The King’ in the environment of the songwriters festival is a dream scenario," said Wheeler. "We’re honored that the festival is showcasing the film.”

Wheeler shared directing chores with fellow filmmaker Wayne Franklin and the filmmakers say “Duke & The King” also makes the case that Bardwell’s time with Elvis ultimately derailed the career of a man many believe should have been a star in his own right.

“Over the years, we’ve come across a lot of loose theories and mumblings about a rift between Duke and his famous boss,” says Franklin. “This film sorts out what’s true and what’s not.”

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