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Beresford’s Big Screen Debut

Oct 20, 2011

A film shot in rural Union County makes its debut at this weekend’s Reel Dakota Film Festival in Sioux Falls. Prairie Sonata is based on a social club that met in Beresford for over 70 years.

In 1934 Elvera Kinkner was newly married and living on a farm near Beresford. It was the heart of the Depression, and times were difficult, so she sought a way to connect with other farmwomen. She founded the Gofer Fun Club, later renamed the Friendly Hour Club.

Their meetings included discussions about cooking, sewing, crafts and other projects. Lunch was served on the hostess’ finest china. Dues were modest – just a dime in the early years, but were later raised to 25 cents, which the members used to donate to local charities.

In 2007, after 73 years of regular meetings, Elvera Kinkner decided to disband the club because just one of its remaining four members was still able to drive a car. But the minutes from each meeting were preserved in a series of spiral bound notebooks. Kinkner’s grandnephew Tom Jacobson, a Los Angeles playwright, read them and wrote a play called “The Friendly Hour” based on their contents.

West Coast filmmakers took notice and began plans to turn the stage production into a film. Crews spent time filming in Beresford during the summer of 2010. The result is Prairie Sonata, a 22-minute film about a woman named Wava, who is in love with her friend’s husband, Walter. When Walter dies, the women seek ways to repair their relationship. Kinkner’s daughter, Caryl Crozier, has been a close adviser during production and even plays her own grandmother in the film.

Prairie Sonata has been well received so far. It won the audience favorite award at this year’s Moondance International Film Festival in Colorado. Crews hope to return to South Dakota during the summer of 2012 and resume filming. They want to turn the short into a feature length film.

The Reel Dakota Film Festival runs through Sunday at the Washington Pavilion.


06:43 am - Fri, October 21 2011
Rebecca said:
The storyline of the film kind of surprised me! I wonder if the story of the woman being in love with her friend's husband was written in the actual Friendly Hour Club minutes? Intriguing ...
09:19 am - Fri, October 21 2011
John Andrews said:
I thought the same thing myself and e-mailed the producer. But I think she's having a baby any day now, so replying to me is, understandably, not a priority. I'm also interested to learn what direction the feature length version will take.

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