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Film Review: GraceLand
by Karen Pecota

Filmmaker Bonnie Discepolo collaborates with co-writer Trevor Munson along with her childhood best friends, actors Anna Camp and Monique Coleman to present a passion project with GraceLand. Discepolo's vision for the film, "GraceLand uses the symbol of Elvis as a vehicle for compassion and understanding and questioning gender norms." Together with her team they create a heartfelt narrative of child rearing with hilarity and seriousness. No doubt with the help of Coleman (Ms. Snell) who is an advocate for children's rights and the youth ambassador to the UN claiming that GraceLand "has an important message."

It's fascinating to see the variety of ways people relate to Elvis Presley no matter the generation. A modern-day fourth-grader's sense of connection to him, decades after his death, one is truly taken-a-back. Discepolo and Munson use the persona and music of Elvis to explore self-identity, gender, and parenting in an ever-changing culture.


Grace (Katie Beth West), a beautiful, blonde-haired privileged child begins the first day of fourth grade announcing to her parents, Prissy (Anna Camp) and Das (Daniel Eric Gold) that she will now be called Elvis, instead of Grace. She drops the frilly, girly attire that includes matching ribbons in her gorgeous, long, thick hair putting her mother, Prissy in a state of shock and speechless. Dad is just as perplexed but has the ability to be the buffer to ease the family into an unexpected reality-check.

Grace [Elvis] takes on a look-alike Elvis from head to toe. The biggest challenge is her musical ability to copy his style and "grace" that has yet to be developed, in order to perform at the school's talent contest. Grace (now Elvis) works really hard at the new identity but puts her parents in a whirlwind of emotional trauma, each wanting to love their child, support their child and save face among their peers within a cherished and traditional southern-style community.

Prissy and Das land in a phase of personal soul searching or rather a strange mid-life crisis. The choices they make will forever impact their only child, the love of their life.