Here’s a recent article in the terrific Lakota Country Times
Higher Ground Coffee House Attracts ‘Rez Bomb’ Director and French Photographer
By Roseanna Renaud – Times Correspondent
(below l-r )Stephen Lewis Simpson, Leon Matthews, and Jean-Claude Figenwald
PINE RIDGE – What do a Scotsman from Aberdeen, Scotland (not South Dakota), and a Frenchman from Paris have in common? A sincere interest in the people, the land, and the buffalo of the Pine Ridge. Independent filmmaker Steven Lewis Simpson and French freelance photographic journalist Jean-Claude Figenwald stopped in at Higher Ground on September 30 for one of Belva and Leon’s homemade spaghetti and meatball lunches and a coffee, after a tour of KILI radio and other reservation locales.
The two discovered their common interests while both were attending the recent 44th Annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup. Although Mr. Figenwald was amazed by the 1,500 buffalo being herded into the park’s buffalo corrals, he wanted to glimpse and photograph the buffalo in a natural setting and from a tribal perspective for an upcoming article, so he added two extra days to his itinerary.
“I asked to stay longer to be able to meet the Indian people, and so they organized a tour. I found the Lakota Country Times online link which led me here. On the tour I met Steven and he told me about his film and so I thought maybe we could hang out while I am here.”
Simpson felt Figenwald should see more than the usual tourist zones. “He was looking for the life and the reality so I thought that I could offer him a chance of seeing more than the cultural things, actually meeting the people.” Figenwald hopes to return on an extended stay to develop another Lakota related photography project.
With such films as Ties, The Ticking Man, and Retribution under his belt, Simpson unveiled his most recent project, Rez Bomb, filmed in Pine Ridge and Rushville, Nebraska, with a world premiere at the Montreal Film Festival last year and a British premiere at the Glosgow Film Festival in February. Simpson wrote, directed, and produced the 95-minute action thriller/love story which is fast becoming a local favorite.
“It is actually a pretty unique thing in terms of a film set in Indian country in that it was originally written to be shown in Edinburgh, Scotland. I even shot an opening nine minutes there which is on the DVD,” said Simpson. “In the end, it’s a story that I really like and I wanted to shoot it somewhere that I felt was interesting to photograph.”
He would like to screen “in Cap officesin as many of the communities as possible and not just Pine Ridge village. Places like Manderson, Kyle, Oglala, Wounded Knee, Porcupine, Wanblee. If it does well then to take if further afield to the neighboring reservations and Rapid, Hot Springs.” You can purchase Rez Bomb at Prairie Edge in Rapid City or online at rezbomb.com. See Mr. Figenwald’s work at jeanclaudefigenwald. com