Sept. 29--At Saturday night's session of the South Dakota Film Festival, the audience got to hear from actors who've worked with Julia Roberts, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and director Joss Whedon.
Three of the participants in the short film "Home" appeared onstage after the film was shown at the Capitol Theatre.
One of those interviewed was director Charlie Hofheimer, whose acting credits include "Black Hawk Down" and the television series "Mad Men." Hofheimer, 32, told the audience how, at age 15, he won a major role in "Fathers' Day," a 1997 film that starred Crystal and Williams. Later, Hofheimer spent five months on location working on "Black Hawk Down," which came out in 2001.
Also appearing onstage was Shannon Lucio, one of the producers of "Home."
Lucio had a big role in 2008's "Fireflies in the Garden," which was described by the festival's Tom Black as "the film that nobody's seen."
In that picture, Lucio's character is the daughter of Roberts and Willem Dafoe. "Fireflies in the Garden" was not released in this country for four years because the company that produced it fell on hard times, Lucio said. The company had already broken even on the film from overseas sales. "Fireflies in the Garden" was finally seen by American audiences largely because Roberts put up the money to get it released, Lucio said, noting that Roberts' husband, Daniel Moder, was its cinematographer.
Lucio said she loved playing an evil character, named Debbie, in the pilot for "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Whedon is one of the show's executive producers.
The third "Home" participant was Sioux Falls native Jenny Lynn Dempster, one of the two actresses in the 10-minute film.
"I am so proud to come home to such quality work," Dempster said, adding that she was greatly enjoying the festival.
"Home," she noted, was financed almost entirely by South Dakotans. Her family and friends put up the funding.
The other actress in "Home," Jamie Donnelly, played the character of Jan in the 1978 film "Grease."
Lucio and Hofheimer are two of the principals in Filament Features, which made "Home." Dempster approached the group because she wanted a role she could "sink her teeth into," Hofheimer said.
Lucio and Hofheimer got to know each other through an acting group in California. After acting in various projects over the years, they agreed that they could do better films and enjoy working on them more if they collaborated with their friends.
Dempster credited her performance in "Home" to the fact that her director pushed her into the darker parts of her character. "Nobody could have done that but Charlie," she said.
The film received a Jury Award from the festival.
Working on Casey Tibbs film
The man who made a film about South Dakota's James "Scotty" Philip is now working on a documentary about another South Dakotan -- rodeo legend Casey Tibbs.
Justin Koehler, who lives in Denver, is the writer and director of "The Buffalo King," which was screened Thursday night at the festival. That picture focuses on Philip, a leader in the effort to prevent the slaughter of American buffalo.
Koehler, 34, is a native of Midland and a graduate of Black Hills State University, which he attended on a basketball scholarship. His parents, Mike and Cindy, also attended the festival.
Another big group from Moorhead
This year's delegation at the festival from Minnesota State University Moorhead totals 24 students and three faculty members. They traveled to Aberdeen in three 12-passenger vans.
The group will return again next year. "Definitely. Our students have tons of fun," said Kyja Kristjansson-Nelson, chair of Cinema Arts and Digital Technologies at the school.
One of the students, Miah Detjen, is attending the festival for the third time.
This time, she is the director, writer and producer of a film called "Daddy." A native of Northfield, Minn., Detjen describes the film as a personal documentary about her relationship with her father, who is hearing-impaired.
A graduate of MSUM, Amber Johnson, was the cinematographer on "You Only Die Twice," which was voted the festival's best comedy short film. Johnson is a native of Wheaton, Minn. Also at the festival was the film's director, Andrew Neill.
Formerly teacher and student
Bates Wilder, who plays the evil General Chizum in "Dust of War," is actually an acting teacher in Massachusetts.
Andrew Kightlinger, the director of "Dust of War," was actually one of Wilder's students at Boston University.
Wilder's full name is actually Christopher Bates Wilder. The 51-year-old lives in Scituate, Mass.
Follow @JeffBahr_AAN on Twitter.
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