Costner to celebrate ‘Dances’ at festival

Andrew Lafrance

Andrew Lafrance

Kevin Costner of The Guardian and Dance With Wolves fame will be in Aberdeen this weekend at the premiere of the third annual South Dakota Film Festival.

Troy McQuillen, the festival’s producer, said that attendance should be higher this year.

“We’ve sold more tickets than we have before,” he said. “For this year, we had to move into a bigger facility to accommodate rising attendance. We seem to be attracting a large number of students.”

McQuillen said that many of the students attending are coming because it is an affordable event.

“It’s very reasonably priced,” he said.

McQuillen also said that the festival is a great opportunity for students interested in film to network with men and women who have more experience in the filmmaking field.

Tickets are sold out, except for the night of Friday, Sept. 18. A Friday night pass includes hearing Kevin Costner speak about Dances with Wolves, seeing three short films about South Dakota and getting a ticket to the afterglow party. The ticket price is $25.

This year, the South Dakota Film Festival is featuring over 20 films from around the country. The festival is a chance for professional and amateur filmmakers to showcase their creative talents in one location.

Friday evening kicks off the festivities with a speech given by Gov. Mike Rounds. After he speaks, three short South Dakotan films will be shown. A live performance of a Native American drumming troop will follow. A 20th Anniversary Dances with Wolves retrospective is set to occur after that, featuring the film’s well-known star, Kevin Costner.

“He is really the best celebrity to bring to South Dakota,” said McQuillen. “He has seen firsthand how beautiful our state really is. Who better to ask than him to introduce our beauty to the rest of the world?”

This is not the first time Costner has been back to South Dakota since filming Dances with Wolves, but it is his first time attending the South Dakota Film Festival.

Costner – who is known for such movies as Open Range, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Upside of Anger and Rumor Has It … – may not live in South Dakota, but his impact on the festival may be large.

“Our main goal of the festival is not only to highlight South Dakota filmmaking,” McQuillen said, “but also to show outside filmmakers what a picturesque place South Dakota is. It would be great if more filmmakers took note of South Dakota and what a perfect place to film it is.”

Besides Costner, director Chris Eyre will be featured. Eyre is the director of three of the five We Shall Remain episodes that aired on PBS in April 2009. Recently, Eyre has directed episodes of NBC’s Friday Night Lights and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

The festival will also serve as a kickoff for the Northern Route to the Black Hills, a new organization dedicated to promoting tourism on Highway 212. The organization hopes to attract tourists off of Interstates 90 and 29 to Highway 212’s attractions.

McQuillen said Costner was very interested in the new organization. “Kevin Costner is very invested in seeing South Dakota succeed on many levels. He was pleased to hear that this new route would highlight cultural and historical sites along northern South Dakota,” McQuillen said.

Before the festival begins, the Historic Capitol Theatre is showing Dances with Wolves on the evenings of Tuesday, Sept. 15; Wednesday, Sept. 16; and Thursday, Sept. 17. Tickets for the movie screenings are $8.

“If students pay to see the movie on one of the weekday showings, they will only have to pay $17 for the Friday evening pass,” McQuillen said.

The weekend’s schedule entails a screenwriting seminar, a discussion about South Dakota arts and film featuring Kevin Costner and several after-parties, as well as the wide selection of films from South Dakota and other areas of the country. A fundraising event is being held on the night of Sept. 18, and a film set demonstration is scheduled for the morning of Saturday, Sept. 19.

Kevin Costner will also be available to sign autographs at scheduled times.

The festival will be held in the Historic Capitol Theatre in Aberdeen, S.D. On Sept. 18, doors open at 7 p.m., with Rounds beginning his speech at 7:30 p.m. The festival concludes at approximately 4 p.m. on Sept. 20.

Tickets are available by visiting or by calling 605-725-2697.