Price: $395.00

    Code: 2475

    Directed by Jonathan Hock
    2012, 86 minutes
    Purchase: $395 Classroom Rental: $125

    An unforgettable story about a young Native American woman and her family and their determined pursuit of the American Dream, Off The Rez is an award-winning documentary that follows one of the country's top high school basketball prospects, 16-year-old Shoni Schimmel, who must leave the reservation in order to play in a competitive, nationally-recognized basketball league.

    Shoni was a high‐school junior living on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, the star basketball player on the local team. When Shoni's mother, Ceci, is offered a job coaching a high school team in Portland, she sees an opportunity not only for her, but her entire family, and especially Shoni. Against the wishes of her own mother and grandmother on the ‘rez,' Ceci decides to move to Portland with her eight children in tow and enroll Shoni in the new school.

    At the schools, Shoni's talents are quickly recognized and she is picked to play for the basketball team. But the pressure begins to mount. How well she plays this year determines the college she is able to attend. Meanwhile, their life in Portland, away from home and their community, involves a greater adjustment then they anticipated.

    But as Shoni continues to play, with each passing game, she notices more Native American fans in the audience. They have come from across the country to see her play.

    Off the Rez is an important film about the need to break the cycle of despair and unfulfilled talent that pervades the reservation. Through sports, and the way in which she has chosen to live her life, Shoni has become a brilliant example, a source of pride and inspiration. Together with her mother, she is determined to prove that Native American women can become champions in this country.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    Official Selection, NAME Multicultural Film Festival


    "For a change, this film presents a positive portrayal of reservation life; it would be enjoyed by both teen and Native American audiences." — Library Journal

    " Highly Recommended . A truly inspiring film for athletes, young girls, and Native American youth alike. Off the Rez does well to demonstrate the strength of this family’s bond through difficult times. Financial and geographical hardships are presented as relatable to a general audience, and are not perceived specifically as a “Native American problems,” which is often the case in other documentaries about the reservation." - Educational Media Reviews Online

    DVD Pick"In the film, contemporary reservation realities expose the severe setbacks Native families face. This story reflects many truths facing an outstanding athlete, who will not be subdued."– Robin Levin, Fort Washakie School/Community Library, School Library Journal

    Recommended - Video Librarian

    "A tale of hope and sacrifice that reveals the difficulties facing Native Americans trying to retain their culture while competing in the outside world...Teens will understand Shoni’s struggles and appreciate her athletic talents and competitive drive." - Booklist

    "Deeply affecting. A Native American version of Hoop Dreams that offers a deeply complex and intimate portrait of what it is to grow up marginalized in American society and how to overcome history… The most satisfying part of Off the Rez is entering the lives of characters seldom seen on American television screens. Their struggles, self-doubt and, yes, triumphs make for an engrossing film, whatever one’s race, gender or tribe." - Hollywood Reporter

    "Deftly balances the suspenseful sports trajectory of standout athlete Shoni Schimmel with a sociological study of her family and environment. Other documentaries about Native American basketball players examine difficulties encountered in making it beyond the reservation. What distinguishes Hock’s film, beyond its fast-break excellence as a sports tale, is the depiction of the reservation as a viable community whose support is integral to the athlete's identity, instead of merely a reinforcement of historical hopelessness." - Variety

    "A soul-searing tale of a teenage girl burdened with the dashed dreams and unfulfilled expectations of an entire people scarred by insults and betrayals committed years, even centuries, before her birth…But Off The Rez is something far more complex than simply a standard text on victimology. It’s 120 minutes of anguished brilliance, and if you don’t watch it you’re flat-out nuts." - Miami Herald