Netflix Movie ‘Rez Ball’: TIFF 2024 World Premiere & September 2024 Netflix Release Date Set

What you need to know so far about Netflix's upcoming sports drama Rez Ball set to premiere at the TIFF Festival.

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Rez Ball

Rez Ball. (L to R) Kauchani Bratt as Jimmy and Kusem Goodwind as Nataanii in Rez Ball. Cr. Lewis Jacobs/Netflix © 2024

Among Netflix’s upcoming sports dramas is the coming-of-age movie Rez Ball, directed by Sydney Freeland. The feature film is based on the screenplay she co-wrote with Sterlin Harjo and was inspired by the critically acclaimed nonfiction sports novel ‘Canyon Dreams’ by Michael Powell. Here’s everything you need to know about the movie, including the latest news that it’s set to debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2024 and its Netflix debut on September 27th.

The project was first announced to be in development at Netflix in August 2021, and we were among the first outlets to announce it. 

The movie is produced by Maurício and Katie Mota’s Wise Entertainment and LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s The SpringHill Company. Spencer Beighley and Jamal Henderson of The SpringHill Company serve as executive producers.

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 are a talented but flawed Native American high school basketball team from Chuska, New Mexico. They hope to win the state championship. But when they lose their star players, the Chuska Warriors must band together to keep the dream 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 in 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 was written by Michael Powell and published back in 2015. If you’d prefer to watch something, Netflix itself has a documentary series called Basketball or Nothing that looks into the sport in episode 1.

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?

Rez Ball Movie Cast Grid Jpg

In April 2023, Netflix confirmed the project’s first batch of cast members, including many newcomers. Here’s a breakdown of the cast:

  • Jessica Matten (Dark Winds, Tribal, Frontier)
  • Julia Jones (The Mandalorian)
  • Amber Midthunder (Prey)
  • Kiowa Gordon
  • Dallas Goldtooth (Reservation Dogs, Fall Out)
  • Cody Lightning
  • Ernest Tsosie

Newcomers for Rez Ball include:

  • Kauchani Bratt
  • Devin Sampson-Craig
  • River Rayne Thomas
  • Jojo Jackson
  • Avery Hale
  • Hunter Redhorse Arthur
  • Henry Wilson Jr
  • Jaren K. Robledo
  • Damian Henry Castellane
  • Kusem Goodwind
  • Zoey Reyes
Cast Lineup For Netflix Rez Ball Jpg

Rez Ball, (L to R) Jaren K. Robledo, Hunter Redhorse Arthur, Jojo Jackson, Devin Sampson-Craig, Henry Wilson Jr., Kauchani Bratt, Kusem Goodwind, Avery Hale, Damian Castellane, River Rayne Thomas.
Photo by: Lewis Jacobs / Netflix © 2023

Where is filming taking place?

Official Production Status: Post-Production (Last Updated: 17/10/2023)

Filming took place in New Mexico, USA, where permission was granted for production to take place on reservation land with the support and permission of local sovereign tribal nations.

Shooting reportedly occurred between April 10th, 2023, and May 19th, 2023.

Director Sydney Freeland has the following to say about 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.”

Filming was reportedly originally due to begin as soon as January 2023. Still, a casting call issued in the same month seemed to indicate the production was instead due to take place between March and June 2023, but even those filming dates were pushed back.

Rez Ball Casting Call

Casting call for Netflix’s Rez Ball

When is Rez Ball coming to Netflix?

The film was first confirmed to be coming to Netflix globally in 2024 during the Next on Netflix announcements in February 2024.

The movie will first debut at a major film festival. Over the summer, we got confirmation that Rez Ball is among the TIFF 2024 lineup that’s taking place between September 5th and September 15th. 

We can also confirm that Rez Ball will be released on Netflix globally on September 27th, 2024.

The movie has a runtime of 111 minutes (1 hour and 51 minutes).

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

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Jacob joined What's on Netflix in 2018 as a fulltime writer having worked in numerous other industries until that point. Jacob covers all things Netflix whether that's TV or movies but specializes in covering new anime and K-dramas. Resides in Norwich in the United Kingdom.