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The Kiwi 'King' of the festival

AUT director’s hard work pays off as film is accepted into prestigious festival

An AUT student’s master’s film about an Elvis performer has been chosen to screen at the Sydney Film Festival. Short documentary The King is a look into the life of an Elvis performer who works by day in a scrap metal yard.

The King’s director Ursula Williams had to work long hours to balance the film with her teaching job and caring for her newborn child.

“I was always a hard worker, but this took hard work to a whole new extreme,” Ms Williams said.

“I guess that’s why I chose a subject matter that’s cheerful and entertaining.”

For the star of a film called The King, Andy Stankovich is a humble person.

“[Ms Williams] came over the other day to do a little bit of filming here but I said to her ‘Aren’t you sick of me yet?’” Mr Stankovich said.

However, he may well deserve his title, having received praise from Elvis’ vocal backing group The Jordanaires. “The bass singer, Ray Walker, was the one who said to me ‘you've got the voice’,” Mr Stankovich said. Mr Stankovich said he chooses not to impersonate Elvis as a person, only imitating his voice.

Sydney Film Festival documentary programmer Jennie Neighbour said one of the reasons the film was chosen was because it defied her expectations.

She expected the subject of a man working scrap metal by day and performing Elvis' songs by night to be treated very differently. “You would’ve thought it was going to be a straightforward, perhaps tongue-in-cheek film,” she said. “What’s surprising is that it’s a very poetic and intimate film.”

The film will debut at the festival, alongside two other New Zealand debuts, which Ms Neighbour praised the country for.

“Whatever you’re doing over there to produce filmmakers, you’re doing very well,” she said.

The King will screen at the Sydney Film Festival from June 9-10.

Originally appeared on

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