‘Rez Ball’: Sydney Freeland to Direct New Netflix Sports Film

sydney freeland to direct rez ball netflix

Sydney Freeland – Picture: Getty Images

Netflix just announced the upcoming Netflix Original coming-of-age sports drama movie, Rez Ball, directed by Sydney Freeland. The feature film is based on her screenplay she co-wrote with Sterlin Harjo. The screenplay was inspired by the critically acclaimed nonfiction sports novel Canyon Dreams written by Michael Powell. 

Producing the movie is Maurício and Katie Mota’s Wise Entertainment, and LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s The SpringHill Company. Serving as the executive producers are Spencer Beighley and Jamal Henderson of The SpringHill Company.

Sydney Freeland is perhaps best known for the 2014 movie Drunktown’s Finest and the short film Hoverboard.

sydney freeland director rez ball netflix

Director Sydney Freeland – Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival


What is the plot of Rez Ball?

The Chuska Warriors, a talented but flawed Native American high school basketball team from Chuska, New Mexico have hopes of winning the state championship. But when they lose their star players, the Chuska Warriors must band together to keep the dream of winning the championship alive.

What is Rez Ball?

Rez Ball or Reservation Basketball is an alternate version of basketball and is predominately played by Native American teams in areas such as Arizona, and New Mexico. Rez Ball is also played in some high schools from Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, California, and Nebraska. The fantastical following of Rez Ball amongst Native American communities is comparable to that of High School football in Texas.

Lightning quick and highly aggressive, Rez Ball is transition-based basketball that is dictated by aggressive plays, quick scoring, and forcing turnovers or half-court traps through an assertive defense.

You can read a bit more background via this New York Times article that’s written by Michael Powell and published back in 2015.

Rez Ball has been rumored to influence and inspire the very top teams and coaches of the NBA.


Who is in the cast of Rez Ball?

So far there are no confirmed cast members of Rez Ball. We can expect to learn more in the following weeks.


Where is filming taking place?

Filming is scheduled to take place in New Mexico, which will include filming on reservation land with the support and permission of local sovereign tribal nations.

Director Sydney Freeland has the following to say on the project:

“I am beyond excited to be working with Netflix, Wise Entertainment, and The SpringHill Company to bring this story to life. Basketball on the Rez is like high school football in West Texas. It has a fanatical following that few sports can rival. I’m also excited to be working with Sterlin Harjo on this. He has brought so much insight, humor, and heart to this story. This is a story that’s commonplace on Indian reservations all over the US, but most people aren’t even aware it exists. What we want to do is bring people into our world, to tell a story about the people and places we know, and what better way to do that than through a sports movie? We want to tell a story that is authentic to the place and people told from the inside out. We are so excited with the team we’ve assembled and can’t wait to bring this to the screen.”


When is Rez Ball coming to Netflix?

It’s going to be a long time before we see the release of Rez Ball on Netflix. It’s more than likely that we won’t see the sports drama on Netflix until 2022, or early 2023 depending on the length of production.

Are you excited for Rez Ball on Netflix? Let us know in the comments below!

Jacob Robinson

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Jacob joined What's on Netflix in 2018 and serves as one of the lead writers here on What's on Netflix. Jacob covers all things Netflix movies and TV shows but specializes in covering anime and K-dramas. Resides in the United Kingdom.