As a comic-book heroine continues her blockbuster dominance this summer, a much lesser known film has also grabbed moviegoers’ full attention. The self-distributed Native American story “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” has quietly sold out nearly every one of its appearances at multiplex theaters across the U.S. over the past two weeks. This box-office winner, with an amazing and authentic star, has touched so many hearts that theaters are extending their movie runs in cities and while expanding into new markets. Due to the overwhelmingly positive reception in Phoenix to “Neither Wolf Nor Dog,” the independent film has just added Tucson to its growing list of cities for wider release—set now to premiere at Harkins Theatres Tucson Spectrum 18 on July 7 for at least one week of showings.
Based on Kent Nerburn’s critically acclaimed novel by the same name, “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” tells the unforgettable Indian story of a 95-year-old Lakota elder named Dan, played perfectly by Dave Bald Eagle. Getting too old, the Native American leader wants his personal notes formally recorded for history’s sake. Tasked to compile the leader’s lifelong journey is none other than fair-minded author and white man Nerburn (Christopher Sweeney).
Modestly filmed by a crew of two over only 18 days, “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” is an incredible look inside the Lakota Country of South Dakota. The movie powerfully captures the culture, hardships, and obstacles that Native Americans have endured over the years. It also highlights the graciousness, humor, and pride still vibrant throughout the Lakota people.
The excellence and shear power of “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” is found in its main star, Dave Bald Eagle, who died post-production at the age of 97. Left for dead on D-Day in real life, Bald Eagle leads a stellar cast that’s both believable and fascinating to watch. The interaction of the characters, particularly Sweeney’s as Nerburn opposite Bald Eagle’s robust Dan, is what keeps this dialogue-heavy movie rolling and interesting.
“Neither Wolf Nor Dog” is an education for viewers throughout. It presents the beauty and tragedy of Lakota life in simple terms, right down to the cinematography and filmmaking techniques used to tell one man’s iconic journey. A historical account that goes back to the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. All events and relationships that must be remembered forever. And that’s the true importance of “Neither Wolf Nor Dog”: the deeply seeded history lesson of our nation’s past and present with the Lakota culture.
This film isn’t bringing home the box-office sales of “Wonder Woman,” but it’s selling out theaters everywhere it’s shown. “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” is a bold, rich take on Native American history that is catching fire with audiences throughout Arizona. We’re fortunate to have this unforgettable story come to Tucson this week.
Patrick King is a resident of Tucson and writer for the REEL BRIEF movie blog at www.reelbrief.com.