The 2022 South Dakota Film Festival features actor Brian Baumgartner


The Aberdeen Capitol Theater will jump in mid-September for the South Dakota Film Festival, where more than 30 filmmakers plan to attend to talk about their films.

The South Dakota Film Festival is September 16-18 and features 57 films plus a selection of shorts to screen in the Be Kind Trope Shrine Film Festival at the Red Rooster Coffee House on August 28. The film festival returns to the Capital Theater with a live film screening event after two years of a virtual program.

Film Festival tickets are on sale now at

Brian Baumgartner Among Those Representing ‘Electric Jesus’ Movie

Brian Baumgartner, best known for playing Kevin on the long-running NBC sitcom “The Office,” is one such guest of honor on Sept. 17. He and four others involved in the production of this year’s feature film “Electric Jesus” will gather on stage after the show to talk about the film, according to a press release from the Film Festival.

After:After two years of virtualization, the South Dakota Film Festival hopes to return to the Capitol

Steven Huber, executive director of the South Dakota Film Festival, said “Electric Jesus” is set in the 1980s and follows the story of a group of teenagers who form a Christian metal rock band that eventually find a manager and tour the South.

“The soundtrack is fantastic,” Huber said.

The music was composed by Daniel Smith, who will also be attending the film festival with the film’s director, Chris White. Smith has worked in a variety of mediums, but first rose to prominence as a member of the Danielson Family with his siblings in the independent music business. He has now produced music for dozens of artists. “Electric Jesus” is his first film score.

In addition to writing, producing and directing “Electric Jesus”, White also collaborated with Smith and co-wrote original songs for the film. White’s previous films include “Unbecoming,” a southern gothic comedy; “Cinema Purgatorio”, an independent cinematic farce; and the family comedy-dramas “Get Better” and “Taken In.” He is also the writer, director and producer of the web series “Star Trek Continues”.

Baumgartner has also appeared on TV shows that include Amazon’s “Hand of God”; “Good behavior” from TNT; and Dreamworks Animation’s reboot of “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.” Her movie credits include: “License to Wed”, “Four Christmases”, “The Last Push”, and “Into Temptation”.

Baumgartner, who plays the band’s manager, will be joined by two of his co-stars Shannon Hutchinson and Wyatt Lenhart. Hutchinson’s first starring role was in the sci-fi adventure “Assassinaut.” Lenhart, has had lead roles in numerous musical theater productions and also plays Pavel Chekov in the web series “Star Trek Continues”.

The five will be on stage at a forum hosted by Lori Walsh of South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s “In the Moment with Lori Walsh.”

Film festival organizers thrilled with live event

After planning virtual events for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Huber said, it’s exciting to plan a live event in Aberdeen.

“It was kind of what we had to do, but it kind of worked out in the end,” Huber said, referring to the need to plan a virtual event.

After:‘Homebody’ will be filmed in Aberdeen and will feature local talent

With the virtual event, the selected films were available for a limited time online as well as virtual interviews with those involved in the films. Huber said that with this format, wider audiences across the country and abroad became aware of the Film Festival.

This broader awareness meant that Huber was fielding calls from people in multiple countries asking for information about the 2022 Film Festival before organizers even started talking about it.

“We have great international entries this year,” he said.

Film Fest finalists selected from 140 submissions

The 57 films that will be screened this year were selected from 140 applications. Huber said while that’s fewer submissions compared to pre-2020 events, it’s significantly higher than 2020 and 2021 submissions.

“We have filmmakers from California and New York,” Huber said. “They saw it online, got interested, submitted and were selected.”

Huber said this year’s Film Festival will also feature two feature documentaries – ‘The Long Rider’ and ‘The Fight over Sioux’.

“The Long Rider” recounts the journey of a man on horseback from Canada to Brazil, an adventure that lasted 2 and a half years. “The Fight over Sioux” delves into the debate surrounding the renaming of the University of North Dakota’s mascot from what was once the Fighting Sioux to what is now the Fighting Hawks.

Return of the price of lead buttocks

A live event also means an end-of-festival awards ceremony, including the awarding of the honorary first butt award – usually given to someone who attended all of the film festival sessions. This year, there are 11 sessions organized over three days.

Huber said this year the name of the award was changed to the Curt Gienger Lead Butt Award, in honor of Gienger, a longtime festival supporter who died in April. Even when the event was virtual, Huber said, Gienger watched every film at the festival.

Other honors this year include the MONA Award, given in memory of Monica Wickre whose 1983 death in Brown County remains unresolved.

As always, a family session is planned. This session is September 18.

As the film festival approaches, Huber said, sponsorship opportunities are always available. For more information, call 605-226-5494.


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