WEEK IN WOMEN: Sydney Freeland to helm basketball drama REZ BALL – Brandy McDonnell reports

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Navajo director Sydney Freeland (Drunktown’s Finest) is helming the Native American basketball drama Rez Ball.

The film follows the Chuska Warriors, a Native American high school basketball team from Chuska, New Mexico, that must band together after losing their star player if they want to keep their quest for a state championship alive. It’s an all-American underdog story about Navajo kids and coaches told from the inside-out.

Freeland (TV’s Rutherford Falls, Fear the Walking Dead, Grey’s Anatomy) co-wrote the script with Oklahoma filmmaker Sterlin Harjo, who is Seminole and Muscogee.

Freeland recently directed episodes of FX on Hulu’s acclaimed Native American coming-of-age comedy series “Reservation Dogs,” which Harjo created with Oscar-winning New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, who is of Maori ancestry.

The Rez Ball script is based on Michael Powell’s sports novel Canyon Dreams and his New York Times articles, which  delve into the world of “reservation basketball.”

Fresh off his starring role in the cinematic sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy, LeBron James is producing the project for Netflix. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell writes features and reviews movies, music, events and the arts for The Oklahoman, Oklahoma's statewide newspaper, and NewsOK.com, the state's largest news Web site. Raised on a farm near Lindsay, Okla., she started her journalism career in seventh grade, when she was elected reporter for her school's 4-H Club. Taking her duties seriously, she began submitting stories to The Lindsay News, and worked for the local weekly through high school. She attended Oklahoma State University, where she worked for The Daily O'Collegian and earned her journalism degree with honors. She worked for three years at small Oklahoma dailies The Edmond Sun and Shawnee News-Star. In 2002, she joined The Oklahoman as a features reporter, writing about movies, the arts, events, families and nonprofits. She moved to The Oklahoman's entertainment desk in 2007. In 2004, she won a prestigious Journalism Fellowship in Child & Family Policy from the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Along with her membership in AWFJ, she also is a founding member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle. Brandy writes The Week In Women blog for AWFJ.org.