True Wolf Blog
The perfect description of True Wolf from John Hartl of The Seattle Times. What more could a documentary ask for?
No spoiler alert, just a great compliment from Sally Mauk, News Director of KUFM who called the ending “one of the really amazing moments in documentary film that I’ve seen.” During her interview with Bruce Weide and Rob Whitehair, she explained “the value of the film is that it raises as many questions as it does answer questions about the whole notion of our relationship to wild animals.”
True Wolf – Executive Producer’s Statement
By Bruce Weide
The making of True Wolf began more than twenty years ago, in 1991, when Koani entered our lives. At first, I borrowed a video camera from Missoula Community Access Television. Later, when Wild Sentry could afford it, I bought a 3-chip camera. Filming our life with a wolf was done on the fly without the luxury of multiple takes and in terms of priorities, it lay well below caring for Koani, running Wild Sentry, and presenting programs. Nevertheless, I shot footage for sixteen years with the belief that this was a good story.
But it wasn’t until 2006, that I truly felt compelled to make a film about Koani. If you live a life with a wolf, you understand that they are meant to live wild and free. I saw a film as a legacy to a wolf who spent her life in captivity and thereby provided many people with a new understanding of wolves. So I set about looking for another filmmaker to work with. I wanted to collaborate with someone for two reasons: Fifteen years had passed since my second documentary aired on public television. During this time I’d engaged in a career entirely apart from filmmaking and much had changed in that world. But of even more importance, I believe in the creative power that comes from team work.
As I searched for a partner, I set about the arduous task of fundraising and eventually, due to the loyalty and generosity of people who had supported Wild Sentry in the past, succeeded. During this period, I also wrote draft after draft of the film. I knew the story I wanted to tell and the three primary elements I wanted to see included:
- the importance of education;
- the role stories play in influencing our perceptions and attitudes;
- the critical need for civil discourse.
Also, I wanted to make a film that underscored the fact that wolves (and hybrids) are not good pets.
Over the course of that three and a half year search, I found people more interested in co-opting the project than collaborating on it. I came quite close to calling it quits… after all, there comes a point when perseverance can turn into stubborn silliness. But I decided to give it one more try.
I explained the story to Rob Whitehair of Tree and Sky Media Arts. This was not an ‘elevator pitch’, this was a full description of story as well as the themes I wanted to see woven into that story. And something unusual and fantastic happened; Rob listened. As I told the story, Rob’s eyes grew more animated and after I finished he said, “Awesome!” And so began a richly rewarding relationship and collaborative effort that resulted in True Wolf.
I hope you enjoy the film. I’m proud of it and I’m delighted to have worked with Rob, but more importantly I now feel a sense of relief because I’ve fulfilled a vow I made to Koani, a commitment to create a legacy to the educational work she achieved and the sacrifice it cost her.
The Seattle International Film Festival box opens is officially open today, May 3.
Follow this link to purchase your tickets for the World Premiere screening. True Wolf director, Rob Whitehair, will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screenings on May 31 and June 1.
Here’s the great write up about True Wolf from SIFF:
When Montana couple Bruce Weide and Pat Tucker made the decision to adopt 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 White Fang. With Koani in the role of “Ambassador Wolf,” the trio made it their mission to educate others. Utilizing a wealth of archival footage and personal remembrances, director Rob Whitehair’s delightful all-ages documentary shows the long-lasting effects that his three stars (along with faithful canine companion Indy) had on their surroundings. Students, teachers, and even a few grizzled motorcycle enthusiasts are on hand to describe the ways their views on nature were changed by their encounters with Koani. 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 for nature enthusiasts that offers plenty of food for thought afterwards.