‘Lakota Girls’ now on Amazon Prime

Ron Burtz
A movie made in the Black Hills nearly five years ago and released in 2017 is finding a whole new audience in 2020, thanks to a deal worked out with Amazon.com. 
The movie “Lakota Girls” was produced by local filmmakers Russell and Mollianne Cameron and featured Custer resident Ilona McDill as well as other amateur and professional actors from around the region and beyond. 
Since its release, the film has been available on pay-per-view on the internet and has been shown at film festivals around the world, including the Black Hills Film Festival, the International Family Film Festival in Hollywood and the World Con 75 Film Festival in Helsinki, Finland. It was also a People’s Choice Award winner. 
Now the film has been picked up by Amazon and is free for members of Amazon Prime. Without a Prime membership, the movie is 99 cents to rent and $2.99 to buy. 
McDill, who is Russell Cameron’s mother, says it is hoped the new platform will expand viewership around the world. 
According to the film’s website, “Lakota Girls” is an “historical drama about Mato Win, an 8-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 8-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, 100 years ago. The girls discover they have more in common than they knew.”
Mollianne, who was both writer and director for the film, based the character of Emylon on her own great-grandmother. 
In the film, McDill plays the part of Clara’s grandmother who owns the ranch near Custer where Mato Win comes to stay. 
“I do one thing very well,” joked McDill of her acting debut. “I talk on the phone well. There are several scenes of me on the telephone, and I’m pretty good at that, but not so much the rest of it.”
McDill says locals may recognize some of the locations of the movie, for instance the old log schoolhouse along Lower French Creek Road where the school scenes were shot. Scenes were also filmed at locations in Rapid City including Prairie Edge Trading Co. and Galleries on Main. 
McDill hopes the new exposure the film is getting will give a boost to Black Hills tourism.
“It highly promotes the Black Hills,” said McDill, adding that the film highlights the area’s wildlife and shows “some pretty, pretty scenery.”

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