Nearly 25 years after Elvis Presley's death, two Canadian film-makers are tackling what they believe to be two vital questions: Was Elvis Jewish and, if so, does anyone care?
To find the answers, the Montreal-based Diversus Productions crew traveled through the U.S. South on a journey to Memphis, and then to Israel, in the summer of 2000. Accompanying them was Schmelvis, a proselytizing Jewish Elvis impersonator, and Rabbi Reuben Poupko of Montreal, the film's spiritual adviser and Schmelvis's biggest critic.
The production, in poetic parallel to Elvis's life, did not always go smoothly offstage, at least in part because of the larger-than-life personality of the star. "He's kind of a loser," the rabbi concluded. The result of the quest is a 76-minute documentary video, Schmelvis: Searching for the King's Jewish Roots, which is scheduled to premiere at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival April 20. It will play in Montreal by early May and air on City TV in Toronto by late May.