Historical Lakota life novel-turned-film at Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon
- EFN Staff | November 26, 2017
An American film about a historical Lakota life and culture is playing at the Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon. Neither Wolf Nor Dog is based on an autobiographical novel by Kent Nerburn, author of other bestselling novels such as The Wolf At Twilight and The Girl who Sang to the Buffalo.
Producer and director Steven Lewis Simpson said author Nerburn approached him eight years ago with the novel, with hopes of turning it into a movie.
“He was growing weary of endless false promises from Hollywood producers about a movie being made,” said Simpson. “It took me a while to read [the novel] but I could relate to a lot of the story…more importantly I could see how different it was reading about the perspective of this white guy from the US interacting with a Lakota compared to my own experience.”
The film is about author Nerburn, who was asked to go to the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota to take the teachings and conversations with Lakota elder, Dan Bald Eagle and turn them into a book. The book recounts the elder’s historical account of the suffrage his people faced including the Wounded Knee Massacre, residential schools, and losing his son. Neither Wolf Nor Dog is from a saying from the historical Native American Chief Sitting Bull in reference that ‘agency Indians’ are neither Indians nor white people - they are neither wolf nor dog.
“I have never been more welcomed anywhere on earth than I have been in Lakota Country, nor is there anywhere I laugh more,” he said. “I had many friends in Lakota Country and other [I]ndigenous friends who thought highly of the novel.”
Actor Dave Bald Eagle threw his heart into the role of Dan. At the peak in the film, he improvised when he was speaking about the massacre at Wounded Knee and how it affected his people.
“Dave was a pure joy to work with and to know. He had the most glorious light about him. His smile was breathtaking, especially when he was being mischievous and the twinkle in his eyes shone so bright,” Simpson said. “To take on his first leading role in a film at 95 was pretty amazing. But he had so much courage and he knew he was doing something that was important.”
Bald Eagle from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota appeared in Dances with Wolves and also served in World War II. Sadly, the actor passed away last summer but had the chance to watch the film.
“After viewing the film just before completion, he said it is the only film he has been in about his people that told the truth,” he said. “We all miss him so much. He truly was a one off.”
Simpson said the reason Neither Wolf Nor Dog is becoming the most successful non-Hollywood US Indigenous movie is due to the late actor Bald Eagle who deeply touched peoples hearts.
“This year it is already the most successful self-distributed film in theaters in the US and it still has a huge amount of the country to cover. It is a sign of how audiences want to experience films with depth and heart.”
Saskatoonians have a week to enjoy the film at the Roxy Theatre with showtimes at 1pm and 7pm from November 24 to December 1.