Pursuing the American dream; DocUtah presents ‘Off the Rez’

ST. GEORGE – “Off the Rez,” a documentary about a Native American family who leaves the reservation in Oregon in pursuit of the American dream, will be shown at The Electric Theater Friday and the Springdale Community Center on Saturday.

The movie follows four generations of strong Native American women from the Umatilla Nation as they struggle together to preserve their traditions in the unforgiving world of big-time American high school sports.

Both of the 7 p.m. screenings will be hosted by Jonathan Hock, a nine-time Emmy Award winning producer, director, writer and editor.

Hock, whose insightful sports documentaries also reveal the larger human and family drama of his subjects, has turned his cameras to America’s forgotten “hood,” the Native American Indian reservation.

“Off the Rez” follows Shoni Schimmel, a high-school junior living on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon and the star basketball player on the local team.

When Schimmel’s mother, Ceci Moses, goes against the wishes of her community and takes a job coaching a high-school team in Portland, the course of Shoni and her family’s lives are changed forever.

This compelling documentary chronicles Schimmel’s senior year and reveals the struggle that mother and daughter face to keep their hoop dreams alive and prove that Native American women can become champions off the reservation.

The film is presented by Dixie State University’s DOCUTAH@TheELECTRIC monthly documentary series and takes a sympathetic and intelligent look into the very human condition of balancing a family’s cultural heritage with the desire to be part of a larger world.

“This documentary, which was selected as part of the ESPN ’30 for 30′ series, is a film about tradition and breaking tradition, about stereotypes and defeating those stereotypes, about one girl’s struggle seen as a microcosm of the struggle of her people,” Phil Tuckett, executive director of DOCUTAH, said.

“It is a remarkable film which does not take sides, but rather reveals the strength of generations to overcome deprivation and move on with their lives.”

Event Details

  • What: DOCUTAH@TheELECTRIC screening of “Off the Rez”
  • When: Friday, May 27, and Saturday, May 28 | 7 p.m.
  • Where:
    • Friday: The Electric Theater, 68 E. Tabernacle St., St. George
    • Saturday: Springdale Community Center, 126 Lion Blvd., Springdale
  • Tickets for the Electric Theater showing can be purchased at the door the evening of the film or from Christina Merrill at the Jennings Building on the DSU campus, weekdays from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. Tickets for the Springdale showing may be purchased at the door the evening of the production. Tickets can also be reserved by emailing Della Lowe at pr.docutah@gmail.com with WILL CALL as the subject line and the number of tickets required.

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