The success of Scottish director, Steven Lewis Simpson’s adaptation of the bestselling novel, Neither Wolf Nor Dog, defies logic – Hollywood logic that is.
Produced and financed by his Scottish company, with 18 shoot days in the U.S.’s poorest region, a tiny crew and a 95-year-old lead actor, the US self-distributed release was launched in small towns and is now outperforming Hollywood blockbusters in numerous multiplexes.
Its Rottentomatoes audience score is 4.7/5 95%.
The novel’s UK Edition hit the Amazon Best Sellers list 18 months ago, published by Edinburgh’s Canongate Publishing in a deal brokered by Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, a huge fan of the novel.
Without a booker or publicist, the film has run in over 200 cinemas and screened in almost 200 other venues so far in the US, and yet it has barely left the Northern Plains and Northwest. It is now the most successful non-Hollywood US Native American themed film in many years and has the longest US first-run theatrical release of any movie in over a decade. Simpson outlined his unique release strategies in the first ever film distribution TEDx Talk.
From 24 May, the film commences a wide Scottish cinemas tour.
Balerno will screen the film on 31 May at Balerno Village Screen at 7:30pm. The showing will be presented by Simpson himself and be followed by a Q&A session at the end.
In December, NWND was part of a 7 film micro-festival at an Oban cinema. With only 4-days notice to promote the film, NWND sold around the same number of tickets as the other 6 better-known films combined and sold out 4 of the 5 showings.
Neither Wolf Nor Dog takes audiences on a deeply moving road trip through contemporary Lakota life.
Its humour is wry and pulls no punches, introducing deep characters and poignant vignettes that challenge the viewer to see the world a bit differently. It is thematically like the Native American Green Book, but with true cultural depth, unlike Green Book’s “racism by the numbers” approach. The film’s star, Dave Bald Eagle, died at 97. For a time his obituary was the BBC’s most-read story.
NPR debated whether Bald Eagle was “the world’s most interesting man.” It’s Simpson’s third feature shot on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Natives regard his work so highly, he was asked to make the first series for a 24/7 US Native station.
Dave Bald Eagle was left for dead during D-Day. Christopher Sweeney was awarded the Silver Star from the Gulf War. Yet it was the film’s other star, Richard Ray Whitman, who spent the most days under fire during the 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973, where the government fired hundreds of thousands of bullets at American Indian Movement activists. Dave Bald Eagle had relatives at the infamous Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. the climax was filmed at Wounded Knee. Sacred ground for the film’s stars.
This wasn’t your average movie shoot.
The film will be shown on 31 May 2019 in Balerno at Balerno Village Screen and then on 4 June 2019 at Dominion Cinema Newbattle Terrace EH10 4RT.