Local filmmakers premiere documentary

Carleen Wild
Posted 9/5/23


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Local filmmakers premiere documentary


Letishia and Jonathan Kelley, of Kelley Creative Collective, recently premiered Elevate a local documentary film about four local artists and changemakers living and working in Sioux Falls, SD. The premiere was done this past week in conjunction with the Sioux Falls Arts Council as a Celebration of Creativity.
The Kelleys, for the past year, followed four creatives all from different backgrounds and cultures — Sonja Hernandez, Moses Idris, Taylor Yocum, and Kyrie Dunkley.
And it’s worth sharing a little about each for those that didn’t make the premiere:
Idris, a Kunama refugee, is making a difference with a youth soccer league to promote visibility among student-athletes. He started the Rising Stars soccer team, part of the South Dakota Stars umbrella, to give now-local Kunama children a positive experience, keep them out of trouble and teach them to work hard, and he’s now expanded the leagues to include volleyball and soccer. For players who struggle with transportation to and from practice, Moses arranges pick-ups before practice and gets them home afterward.

Dunkley is an indigenous fashion designer who intertwines storytelling into every handmade piece she creates. She is Dakota and Lakota, born in Sisseton, and enrolled in the Enemy Swim District. Dunkley lives in Sioux Falls now and works from home sewing clothes and selling them under the name “Shinin Star Style”. Her clothing can be found at Sweetgrass Soapery / All Walks Trading Post Co. She is also certified in Indianpreneurship Training and Building Native Communities Financial Education through the Black Hills Community Loan Fund Indigenous Artist program.
Hernandez, a Hispanic potter, grew up in Western North Carolina and would often accompany her grandmother to the studios of artist friends. She sat at a potter’s wheel for the first time while in high school and was instantly hooked. She later earned a Professional Craft Degree with a ceramics focus from Haywood Community College. Operating under the name Sonja Gloria pottery, she sells her pieces out of her own studio as well as Sweetgrass Soapery and Eastbank Art Gallery.
Taylor, a director, cinematographer, musician, and editor, continues to develop a collaborative network while mastering his craft. Taylor also worked with the Kelley’s and contributed to the creation of the film.  
“Letishia and I embarked on creating the film “ELEVATE” with a vital purpose – to amplify the voices of creatives and artists of color within the Metro Sioux Falls Area. As filmmakers, we’ve encountered hurdles in securing funding opportunities and gaining visibility in regions like Sioux Falls, Flandreau, and the Upper Midwest. The trust that these four remarkable artists placed in us to visually articulate their stories in this film is something we deeply value.
“Our gratitude extends to Kellen Boice, the Executive Director of the Sioux Falls Arts Council, whose unwavering support allowed us the creative freedom to bring this project to life,” the Kelleys said.
“This event marked a historic moment for everyone involved, as the film was showcased on the big screen. The evening was further enriched by an enlightening artist panel discussion that followed.”
For more information, log onto artssiouxfalls.org.