Sydney Freeland to Direct Native American Basketball Film ‘Rez Ball’ | Navajo-Hopi Observer

FLAGSTAFF, Arizona – Native American director Sydney Freeland, (‘Reservation Dogs’, Drunktown’s Finest) will direct coming-of-age drama about Native American basketball, ‘Rez Ball’, produced by Wise Entertainment, LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s The Spotlight Co. for Netflix.

Freeland and Sterlin Harjo (‘Reservation Dogs’) will script.

According to a Netflix press release, the film is based on Michael Powell’s sports novel, “Canyon Dreams,” as well as the New York Times article that preceded it.

“‘Rez Ball’ explores the raw and exhilarating world of ‘reserve basketball’ with its unique, lightning-fast pace that is said to have influenced top NBA teams and coaches over the years,” Netflix said.

In a December 2019 review of “Canyon Dreams,” in the Navajo-Hopi Observer, Powell admitted that he didn’t need to talk to Navajo students about the realities of life on the reservation or the hardships they faced. to decide their future – whether to stay on the reservation or leave.

But he immersed himself in the 2017-18 basketball season and explored why Chinle, a town of around 4,500 residents, is teeming with fans and families, who sometimes travel great distances across the reserve to watch. the games. The stadium can accommodate 6,400 people and 1,000 standing places.

Freeland said she was more than excited to work with Netflix, Wise Entertainment and The Springhill Co. to bring the story to life.

“Basketball on the Ground is like high school football in West Texas,” she said. “He has a fanatic following that few sports can match.”

Freeland said she was excited to be working with Sterlin Harjo on the project.

“He brought so much insight, humor and heart to this story,” she said. “It’s a story that’s common on Indian reservations all over the United States, but most people don’t know it exists.”

Freeland explained that she wanted to bring people to their world.

“To tell a story about the people and places we know, and what better way to do it than through a sports film?” she asked. “We want to tell an authentic story for the place and the people, told from the inside out. We are so excited by the team that we have assembled and can’t wait to bring it to the screen.”

Call for casting for Native American actors:

Midthunder Casting has appealed to Navajo basketball players, male and female, ages 18-20 to play as high school kids in the movie “Rez Ball”.

All types, shapes and sizes. No acting experience necessary. Those interested can send the following information by email to

Name, height, phone number, age (if under 18), email address, location (city, reservation or community), optional (tribal or clan affiliation), photos (head or cell phone photos). In the subject line write the first and last name – Rez Ball Player.

The rate is around 1K per day or 3.5K per week.

COVID-19 Security: All CDC guidelines and precautions will be followed.

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