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. The screenplay itself was inspired by the critically acclaimed nonfiction sports novel ‘Canyon Dreams’ written by Michael Powell. Here’s everything you need to know about the movie so far.
The project was first unveiled to be in development at Netflix back in August 2021, which we were among the first outlets to announce. We’ve updated this preview to reflect new information regarding the forthcoming Netflix Original movie.
Producing the movie are 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.
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 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.
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?
In April 2023, Netflix confirmed the project’s first batch of cast members including lots of 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
Where is filming taking place?
Filming is scheduled to take place in New Mexico, including 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.”
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.
Production began on April 10th and is planned to go on until May 19th, 2023.
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. Given the exceedingly long wait we’ve seen thus far for the movie to get into production, it likely won’t be until late 2023 at the earliest or more likely a 2024 release date for the movie.
Are you excited for Rez Ball on Netflix? Let us know in the comments below!