Jimmy Carter and Willie Nelson White House Staff Photographer, Courtesy of Jimmy Carter Library
[JIMMY CARTER ROCK & ROLL PRESIDENT] Jimmy Carter and Willie Nelson White House Staff Photographer, Courtesy of Jimmy Carter Library

CNN Films has acquired North American broadcast rights to the documentary film Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President. The documentary was created by the award-winning director Mary Wharton, producer Chris Farrell, and writer Bill Flanagan. Originally set to open the 19th annual Tribeca Film Festival in April, the feature will now be the closing film for AFI DOCS film festival on June 21st.

Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President chronicles the role of popular music in propelling a relatively unknown candidate from Georgia to the White House, and the significant role that music has played in President Carter’s life and work. The film shows how Carter’s life-long passion for music gave him an unexpected edge as a presidential candidate, as he tapped into a force that transcended racial and generational divides, and often party lines. Carter’s appreciation for all genres of music and friendships with the likes of Bob Dylan, Gregg Allman, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, and Willie Nelson, helped to define his administration.

Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President combines intimate interviews with Carter and an eclectic cast of contributors including Willie Nelson, Bono, Bob Dylan, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Jimmy Buffett, Roseanne Cash, Chuck Leavell, Paul Simon, Andrew Young, and Madeleine Albright. Featuring rare, archival era-defining live performances from Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Paul Simon, and Bob Dylan, among others, director Mary Wharton traces how Carter’s genuine approachability, combined with the unifying power of music, became key to his political appeal, and allowed him to connect with voters who may only have known him as a small-town peanut farmer.

President Jimmy Carter said, “When Chris and Mary came to Plains to show the film to me and my family, it was entertaining and emotional for all of us. The film exceeded my expectations in every way. I’m thrilled that “Rock & Roll President” will reach a broad audience on CNN. Despite the difficult times we are in, the film highlights my personal belief that we should remain hopeful and that music is a powerful source of hope in trying times.”

Producer Chris Farrell and Director Mary Wharton commented, “When we started this journey two-and-one-half years ago, our goal was to tell an interesting and surprising story about President Carter and his relationship with music, in the hopes that it would make people see him in a new light. Being able to share the film with millions of Americans through this deal with CNN Films is a significant step towards achieving that goal. The fact that we were able to screen the film for the President and receive his endorsement has been one of the most gratifying aspects of the project. We hope that CNN viewers will come away with a new appreciation for not only his moral courage and leadership, but also the fact that he is pretty cool.”

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