True Wolf, a stirring feature documentary film produced by director Rob Whitehair, of Missoula-based production company, Tree & Sky Media Arts and w
riter Bruce Weide of Hamilton has been picked up for national theatrical distribution and will make its Montana debut at the Wilma Theatre on June 29. The debut screening will feature a Q&A with film’s Bruce Weide, Rob Whitehair, and Pat Tucker.
The wolf came for dinner and stayed for sixteen years. True Wolf chronicles the life of Koani, a wolf born in captivity who became an ambassador for her species and changed the lives of so many people. When Montana couple Bruce Weide and Pat Tucker made the decision not to euthanize an abandoned wolf pup in 1991, they had little idea of how their new houseguest named Koani would end up shaping their lives. After a lengthy trial-and-error process of learning how to share space with a territorial predator (Lesson 1: Always have plenty of replacement furniture on hand), they developed a healthy respect and profound appreciation for the line separating “man’s best friend” and the dog’s wild ancestor. With Koani in the role of “Ambassador Wolf,” this unusual pack traveled to communities across America where the return of wolves was an explosive controversy; their goal, to give people a chance to look a wolf in the eye and decide for themselves if the stories and legends about this animal reflected reality or imagination.
Born in captivity, Koani could only be a captive wolf. She could never roam wild nor could she be allowed to run free. For Bruce and Pat, despite all their efforts to provide for Koani’s needs, they would have to face the painful truth that they could not provide for her greatest need – to be free. As she would prove time and time again, she was a wolf – and wolves belong in the wild.
True Wolf weaves the story of life with Koani into the larger issue of humanity’s relationship with the wolf and wildness. Through 16 years of original Koani footage, supplemented by provocative interviews, stylized re-creations and stunning wolf footage, this contemporary film explores the highly polarized and contentious period before, during, and after the United States made the historic decision to return wolves to the homelands from which they’d been exterminated and delivers a timely message to be considered as the controversy surrounding wolves continues to play out. Students, teachers, wildlife biologists, and even a few grizzled motorcycle enthusiasts are on hand to describe how their encounters with Koani changed their views of nature. Showing an admirable even-handedness towards its subject matter, True Wolf also takes time to explore the ethical concerns inherent in raising a wild animal, resulting in a documentary that offers plenty of food for thought afterwards.
Shadow Distribution has picked up True Wolf for North American theatrical release. The film world premiered to a packed house on May 31 at the Seattle International Film Festival. The national theatrical release began on June 22 at the Seattle Landmark Varsity Theater. On June 29, it will begin its Montana debut at the historic Wilma Theatre in downtown Missoula. The film will continue to play throughout the week. Show times can be found on the Wilma Theater website www.thewilma.com.
True Wolf will also show in Seattle, Portland, Denver, Santa Fe, and many other cities.