Oban cinema audiences turn out for Native American film

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Scottish film director Steven Lewis Simpson is counting on Oban to help get his film into cinemas around the UK.

His landmark Native American film – Neither Wolf Nor Dog – was screened at Oban’s Phoenix Cinema this weekend as part of a six-day festival of film and was declared a ‘best-seller’.

Even though it had its world premier at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it was a big hit, the Aberdeen-born movie maker reached out to a number of smaller film theatres in Scotland as part of a ploy to secure more takers for it when it is released into UK cinemas next year.

Without a booker or publicist, Simpson self-distributed the film into 200 cinemas in just 20 per cent of the US market first, more than many acclaimed films, and it is now the most successful non-Hollywood Native American themed film in years.

Simpson has great expectations for it in the UK. He said: ‘I reached out to small town cinemas and Oban’s Pheonix reached back out to me. I’ve been really excited about it. We were pre-selling tickets. When I’m going to other cinemas, it’s a big help as a self-distributor if I can tell them just how we filled seats in Oban. In big cities it’s hard to work up a head of steam but word seemed to get round in Oban.’

Adapted from the acclaimed novel Neither Wolf Nor Dog, by Kent Nerburn, the storyline follows a white author who gets sucked into the heart of contemporary Native American life in the sparse lands of the Dakotas.

The cast included Lakota elder Chief David Beautiful Bald Eagle in what was to be his last film role. He died aged 97 in July 2016. He starred in 40 films, including Dances With Wolves.

‘It has been the best-seller just now. It’s a bit different for us but then that’s what we are all about,’ said Phoenix duty manager Marco Pacitti just before the first screening on Friday, which was followed by a second showing on  Saturday night.