All Images: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press
Indie Movie ” Neither Wolf Nor Dog” Has Special First American Preview Screening in Kyle, SD
By Herb Ryan
Custer, SD – On July 22, 2016, Chief David Bald Eagle, the grandson of Chief White Bull who fought in the battle of the Greasy Grass in 1876, died at the age of 97 years. This movie is a tribute to the life and wisdom of Chief David Bald Eagle.
On September 17, 2016 a group of Lakota and others came together at the Nunpa theatre in Kyle South Dakota for a special preview screening of “Neither Wolf Nor Dog”, an indie film produced and directed by filmmaker Steve Lewis Simpson . Based on the novel
Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn who was portrayed in the film by actor Christopher Sweeney.
Before the screening I had a chance to talk to a jittery Simpson. He said,” We shot the movie two years ago in 18 days on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and the movie was taken way beyond the book’s impact by the natural ability of the actors”. Talking about the scene at Wounded Knee Massacre Monument on Pine Ridge Reservation where an estimated 300 Lakota men women and children were massacred by the 7th Cavalry Regiment commanded by Colonel James W. Forsyth.Simpson said ” Dave Bald Eagle and Christopher Sweeny (Nerburn) got off script in that scene, nothing we could have written would have the same emotional impact of what they said at the monument” According to Steve, “the entire scene was one interrupted emotional flow, one take, everybody on the crew fell into the flow”.
While interviewing for the mechanic part in the movie Steve Lewis Simpson said ” we had three guys lined up to interview for the part, Harlen walked in first and, that was it, he really was a mechanic and had that intimidating don’t mess with me look”. Harlen, by the very force of his presence absolutely stole the first scene he was in, very little dialogue, but truly a memorable character.
The movie was emotional, heavy-handed at times because the truth hurts, but most of all it attempts to open a door of understanding without being overbearing. I for one do not really understand who Lakota people are, but contrary to popular myths I do see strong family ties, a basic desire to be happy and enjoy life. It,s not easy to discard the stereotypes, all races are guilty of that. This movie will open your eyes and illicit emotion, anger, sorrow, laughter and maybe compassion for other people.
A review by Caroline Grebbell in Edinburgh Festivals Magazine June 24, 2016:
Neither Wolf Nor Dog is a painful and truthful dialogue between the Indian and the white man. What it lacks in structure it makes up for in honesty and heart, and the humourous symbolism of the final scene is just perfect.
The next screening of “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” will be at the San Diego Film Festival in two weeks.