Fans of Kent Nerburn’s book Neither Wolf Nor Dog, will be thrilled to know the movie has finally been made, to great acclaim so far. This was David Bald Eagle’s final role.
It has taken twenty years for the bestselling novel, Neither Wolf Nor Dog to get made. And Indian Country was the venue as the independent film opened up Friday February 24 at the Yakama Nation Heritage Theater in Toppenish, WA, in theaters in Bemidji and Rochester, MN, and in South Dakota, where much of the film is set. These were the four sites to host the film’s theatrical premiere and they provided a very successful opening as the film was held over for another week at most of the venues.
Based on Kent Nerburn’s 1996 bestselling novel of the same name, Neither Wolf Nor Dog is the story of a well-meaning white writer (Nerburn himself, played by Christopher Sweeney) who is drawn into Native culture when a Lakota elder asks him to turn a box full of notes into a book. The elder — a man named Dan is played by 95-year-old David Bald Eagle — uses the opportunity to poke holes in Nerburn’s — and the audience’s — assumptions about Native people.
David Bald Eagle walked on his journey to the spirit world this past July at age 97, but was able to view the film and said, “It’s the only film I’ve been in about my people that told the truth.”
This is Scottish director Steven Lewis Simpson’s third feature film made in South Dakota. Christopher Sweeney, Richard Ray Whitman, Roseanne Supernault, Tatanka Means, Zahn McClarnon (seen in ‘Fargo’, ‘Longmire’ and ‘Mekko’) and newcomer, Harlen Standing Bear Sr. make up the rest of the outstanding cast.
Simpson ran a grassroots operation distribution, telling indie filmmakers on Facebook how he self-distributed, hand delivered prints and paid an absolute minimum for a Facebook ad, as Neither Wolf Nor Dog premiered in 3 states. It’s successful opening now sets the stage as the initial audience ratings should help for a wider release around the nation.
In the multiplexes that showed Neither Wolf Nor Dog, the competition was all Hollywood films of the moment, and Simpson’s beat them all comfortably, only the top 3 films in the US that weekend had a better screen average attendance. And it was all word of mouth, local media, grassroots support and very much with the help of Facebook. The audiences have given the film a 9.3/10 rating on IMDB so far and the reports from people have been extremely complimentary.
The films world premiere was at the oldest continuously running film festival in the world, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where it’s first review was 5 stars, receiving an incredible audience and critical response. And fans of Nerburn’s novel gave the film a standing ovation at a special South Dakota Book Festival screening.
ICMN has the full story. Be sure to look out for the film wherever you are!