News Column

German filmmakers set scene in SD

October 7, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 07--She was late getting to the South Dakota Film Festival, so it's only right that Lucia Scharbatke got to hang around after it ended.

Scharbatke, who lives in Munich, Germany, is the producer of "Gefallen," which won the Best Foreign Film Award at the South Dakota Film Festival. But mechanical problems with a jet caused her to miss her flight to Aberdeen by three minutes.

The tears fell as she sent a message to Brent Brandt, festival organizer, from the Minneapolis airport telling him that she'd miss the Sunday showing of "Gefallen" at Capitol Theatre.

Not a problem, Brandt responded. The film would be shown a second time at the end of the day so Scharbatke could be on hand.

The accommodation led to tears of joy.

As her flight was preparing to leave Amsterdam for the Twin Cities, she said the jet's lights went out, then the engine quit. That led to a two-and-a-half-hour delay and the missed flight to Aberdeen.

Since the film festival ended, Scharbatke and Christoph Shuler, the director of "Gefallen," have remained in the state working on a short film with South Dakotans Andrew Kightlinger and Luke Schuetzle. Kightlinger and Schuetzle worked on "Dust of War," which was also featured at the film festival.

Shooting on the film began last week and concluded Tuesday in Pierre. Tom Black of Aberdeen is acting in the film.

Scharbatke described the film as a funny love story. She and Shuler wrote both it and "Gefallen." But Scharbatke flew home to Germany Saturday because she has to teach today. She's an instructor at the University of Television and Film Munich.

Scharbatke and Shuler met Kightlinger and Schuetzle in May at a film festival in Washington, D.C., and again in June at a film festival in California.

After "Gefallen" was accepted to South Dakota Film Festival and Scharbatke and Shuler decided to attend, they also decided they wanted to shoot a short film with Kightlinger and Schuetzle.

Scharbatke, 30, said she comes from a family of lawyers and even has a law degree. But once that was finished, she enrolled in film school, an idea her father wasn't keen on at the time. He's come around, though, Scharbatke said. He even helped out with "Gefallen."

"He finds every little mistake in the script. And he's brutal about it," Scharbatke said of her dad.

Translated into English, "Gefallen" means "The Fallen." It's a story about how three German soldiers fare after returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Among their challenges -- dealing with the battlefield death of a friend.

Scharbatke said the German military didn't want the story told or to help with the film, though some soldiers secretly did.

The tank from the Tom Cruise movie "Valkerie" also appears in "Gefallen." It belongs to a military supply company, which rents it from the German military, Scharbatke said. Because she and Shuler couldn't afford to move the tank, they dumped seven tons of sand in a parking lot in a small German town and shot the tank scene there.

Scharbatke said a feature-length edition of "Gefallen" is a possibility. She said she's helped make 16 films of different genres.

"I don't like to stick to one," she said.

During her time in South Dakota, she's had a number of firsts: a Pop-Tart, a concoction of bison meat and strawberry jam, Chunky Monkey ice cream, an American beer and an autograph request.

Her Friday evening plans included glow bowling at the Village Bowl.

She said she hopes to return to Aberdeen for next year's film festival. She's already contemplating what film to submit.

"It's like coming back to your family, and you don't want to leave," she said. "You felt welcome from the very first second."

Follow @ScottReports on Twitter.

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(c)2013 the American News (Aberdeen, S.D.)

Visit the American News (Aberdeen, S.D.) at www.aberdeennews.com

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