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Alumnus earns award at Newport International Film Festival

SIOUX FALLS – Augustana alumnus Andrew Kightlinger, class of 2008, has won Best Original Screenplay at the Newport International Film Festival.

The British Film Guild said there were a phenomenal number of entries and Kightlinger's script for the yet-to-be-made "You Don't Know Bertha Constantine" was a cut above the competition. The festival's aim is to give budding film-makers and writers a strong platform to get their work recognized.

The script tells the story of a middle-aged woman who defies law and societal convention by honoring her dead husband's wish to be consumed by South Dakota's Badlands. While Kightlinger wrote the script as grief therapy for the loss of his mother, his writing also draws on Native American death rituals.

The lead role was written with Augustana Theatre Professor Julia P. Bennett in mind. Without hesitation, Bennett signed on to tackle the physically demanding role of Bertha Constantine. Says Bennett, “Even as a student, Andrew’s work was ground-breaking and innovative. I’m honored to take any part in a project of Andrew’s; to be offered a chance to participate at this level is an incredible artistic opportunity I don’t want to miss.”

Kightlinger plans to attend the festival on December 7-8 in Newport, Wales. "You Don't Know Bertha Constantine" is actively seeking financial support and Kightlinger will use his trip to the festival as an opportunity to raise money for the $55,000 project.

The film starts principal photography this June in central South Dakota and, of course, in the Badlands. Kightlinger, who is a graduate student at Boston University, plans to direct the project himself.

For more information on Kightlinger's project, contact him at akkightlinger@gmail.com.