Review of Wales International Documentary Festival
“The King and Dai tells the story of the Porthcawl Elvis Festival, Europe’s largest Elvis Tribute Festival. For one weekend every year, the otherwise sleepy seaside town turns into a celebration of all things Elvis, attracting fans and Elvis impersonators all around the world, culminating in a fascinating stew of cheesy kitsch and utter sincerity. Directed by South Wales-based David Barnes, what begins as a light-hearted portrait of the festival soon turns into an engrossing investigation; bickering and bitter fall-outs between former organisers, grapevine-rumours and chaos, throughout which Barnes attempts to deliver a coherent narrative and figure out what on Earth is going on. The festival emerges as some kind of strange metaphorical parallel with the King himself: an innocent start, buoyed by great initial success and enthusiasm, followed by all manner of backstage mayhem once things start bloating. Even if you’re not an Elvis fan, there’s still something magnetic about the film’s mix of cheese and humanity. And of course, that excellent title encourages thinking of more Welsh-based film puns (The Bridge Over the River Dai! A Fish Called Rhondda! Lost in Treforest!).” (Test Fedor Tot)
Each year, Elvis impersonators from around the world flock to the sleepy Welsh seaside town of Porthcawl for Europe’s largest Elvis tribute festival. Who knew, right?
South Wales-based director David Barnes bagged the Best Welsh Film award at the Welsh International Documentary Festival for his study of this peculiar event, which begins as a jolly, light-hearted portrait but soon takes a left-turn into bitter fall-outs between former organisers, grapevine rumours and backstage chaos. Barnes and other crew members will be present for a Q&A after this Bristol premiere of what looks like a hugely entertaining film.