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'Powerful' indie film gets limited run in Red Wing

The late Dave Bald Eagle (left), Christopher Sweeney and Richard Ray Whitman star in “Neither Wolf Nor Dog,” which opened Sept. 15 for a limited run at Red Wing Cinema 8. Photo courtesy InYo Entertainment

Last weekend was the busiest yet for showings of the independent film "Neither Wolf Nor Dog" — a remarkable feat considering it opened in theaters months ago.

The movie starts a limited run Friday, Sept. 15, at Red Wing Cinema 8, part of a continuing rollout to screens across the country.

Director and co-writer Steven Lewis Simpson said a key reason for the movie's success is its heart, something that can't be purchased no matter what size the budget.

"It's funny in parts, but it's also very deeply moving and powerful," he said.

Adapted from Minnesotan writer Kent Nerburn's award-winning novel by the same name, "Neither Wolf Nor Dog" is the story of a white author who meets with a Lakota elder and agrees to turn his notes on culture and Native American insight into a book.

Going the independent, audience-financed route allowed Simpson to cast the late Dave Bald Eagle in the role of the elder, who at 95 years old during shooting would have made the film uninsurable on a Hollywood budget. The World War II veteran and actor died in July 2016 at age 97.

"I'll never film a more beautiful face in my entire career, I can tell you that," Simpson said.

When it came to shooting the movie's climax at the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre in South Dakota, Simpson said he ignored the script and let Bald Eagle — whose family had closer ties to the tragedy than the character he was playing — improvise the sequence.

Simpson said the movie is best viewed with a group of people in a theater environment.

"There's a communal experience that happens," he said, adding that a recurring comment he hears from audience members is they are struck by the high percentage of people still sitting in their seats when the lights come up at the end.

Showtimes are available at www.redwingcinema8.com or by calling the movie hotline at 651-385-8855.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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