In a story which has repeated itself around the world, when countries are first colonised by ‘Conquistadors’ the indigenous populations usually end up faring badly. America is a case in point. Whether by intention or accident, most of the Native American populations were decimated by European invaders. Those remaining have been gradually forced off their reservations by white capitalists. Whilst there may be a greater awareness of this injustice today, in some parts of society, that doesn’t mean to say they’ve been given a voice. It’s a subject close to the heart of Neither Wolf Nor Dog.
Kent Nerburn (Christopher Sweeney) is a white author who has had success with an oral history book he’s written with the help of Indian students in Minnesota. After being summoned by a Lakota Elder (Dave Bald Eagle), he makes the long trip across country only to receive a frosty reception. Dan has written his thoughts on scraps of paper and wishes the author to compile a book out of them. However, this is not going to be as simple as it first seems.
Neither Wolf Nor Dog is not a subtle film by any measure. The meaning is clear and the message is delivered in a way which leaves no room for doubt. Steven Lewis Simpson’s film eschews melodrama or stylish ticks in favour of authenticity. Whilst this means it can feel slightly uneven at times, it makes the message all the more powerful. It works largely due to the relationship between Dan and Kent. Their conversations form the heart of the story. Not to mention the stunning backdrops. Neither Wolf Nor Dog is a fascinating film about respecting and trying to understand the history, traditions and cultures of others.
Neither Wolf Nor Dog is in select cinemas across the UK.