Custer Family Awarded “Peoples Choice” for “Lakota Girls” at Black Hills Film Festival


The Black Hills Film Festival Awards, Hill City, South Dakota
Best Feature Film
Misfortune: Desmond Devenish, producer, Director, Writer, Star. Roger Stelien Producer,  Scott Lautanen Producer, Locations provided film cars. Corey Tolley provided film car fabrication and signage.

Best Short Film
Bird Dog: Katrina Whalen, Writer, Director. Producer, Jack Parlaute Producer, Charlie Koss, Carolyn Eperspecher.

Best Documentary – Feature
The Legend of Swee’ Pee: Benjamin May, Director. Anne Marie Lawless Writer, Karl Holland and Daniel Levin Producers.

Best Documentary –  Short
Phil’s Camino: Jessica Lewis and Annie Oneil . Director, Annie Oneil Producer.

Peoples Choice
Lakota Girl’s: Molli Cameron Director, Russell Cameron, Producer

By Herb Ryan

Russell Cameron. producer, director of photography and actor, and Molli Cameron, director, writer, producer and costumes, were awarded the ” Peoples Choice” Award for the full length movie Lakota Girls Saturday evening at the Hill City Film Festival in Hill City, South Dakota.

Lakota Girls is a historical drama about Mato Win, an eight-year-old Native American girl who lives at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. She is sent to live with a white family at a horse ranch in the Black Hills. She stays with Clara, an eight-year-old white girl and her family, but Mato Win is determined to get back to the reservation. She runs away to the mountainous forest, but is found. Mato Win is afraid she will be kept from her parents and does not trust Clara’s older brother Cavan. Mato Win questions Clara about an old photo of two Indian men in her home. Clara tells the story of her great-great grandma, Emylon, who rode the train from Indiana to teach there, a hundred years ago. The girls discover they have more in common than they knew. See Lakota Girls Movie Web Site


When I talked to Molli and Russell at the premiere of Lakota Girls Thursday at the Journey Museum in Rapid City, the film had not been shown yet. First time jitters and nervous energy were flowing around them and their children Cavan and Clara who both have parts in the movie. This was a new venture, Molli had written the story and Russell has a background in photography, but., there was zero experience in making a movie. Molli and Russel decided to commit and do what every was necessary to understand the film making process..Russell confessed that he had spent close to forty thousand dollars on camera equipment, he said. “That was a very expensive purchase, we also attended an accelerated film school in Chicago and the whole family was enrolled in an acting class as prep for the production. All our actors were paid, plus travel expense and production time, script adjustments and editing all add up”. Molli added: “There was all that on top of the fact, this was a family oriented movie, we wanted to take a chance and do something that relied more on the story line than the current cinema trend, something that is sensitive and informative and again suitable for a general audience, now we will wait and see how the audience will react to  the movie”.

In a conversation with Avatar actor Stephen Lang at the Warrior’s Work Gallery in Hill City Saturday evening, we discussed the advances in movie technology. Stephen Lang said:” Yes, the technology really adds to the visual impact of a movie and I’m all for that, as actors, we all learn how to tell the story standing in front of a green screen which by the way can be difficult at times”. Lang continued: The green screens, 3-d modeling and other special effects are really not the soul of the movie, it needs a great story and actors that can perform their craft with conviction, that my friend is what makes a memorable movie, a movie that does not leave you feeling ,unfulfilled or hollow inside”. Lang’s submission to the Hill City Film Festival was “Beyond Glory” based on journalist Larry Smith’s best-selling war chronicle, Beyond Glory combines the art or theatre and cinema to tell the graphic conflicts of WWII, Korea and the Vietnam war. Screenplay by Stephen Lang, Directed by Larry Brand.
Vietnam War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Michael J. Fitzmaurice from Hot Springs, and Avatar actor Stephen Lang at the Black Hills Film Festival at the Warrior’s Work Gallery reception Saturday evening in Hill City, SD. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


L-R Andy Klitzkey, Pierre SD – Hannah Bowman Rapid City SD, Jameson Pleifle Keystone, SD and Rebbeca Cruse ‎Assistant Director at South Dakota Arts Council. enjoy post Black Hills Film Festival movie snacks and conversation at Warrior’s Work Gallery Reception in Hill City SD. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press.
Lakota Girls actors enjoy a gourmet buffet at The Warrior’s Work Gallery in Hill City. L-R Cavan Cameron Actor, Alexa Raye Actor/Model, Clara Cameron Actor, Molli Cameron Director Writer Producer, and Audra Leary. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


Custer residents Lindsey Percival, and City of Custer Mayor Jared Carson talk about film production with Jason Johnson director of “Whispering Pines” and Justin Zimmerman director of “Smart” both directors live in Los Angles,. Mayor Carson will be giving Justin Zimmerman a tour of Custer Sunday. Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


Molli Cameron receives the People Choice Award from Chris VanNess Executive Director Black Hills Film Festival. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


Desmond Devenish, Winner Best Feature Film “Misfortune” at the Black Hills Film Festival in Hill City, SD. Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press.


Katrina Whalen winner Best Short Film “Bird Dog” at the Black Hills Film Festival in Hill City, SD. Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press.

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