The Shoni Schimmel Flick, “Off The Rez”: Interesting, But Disappointing

I’ll say this for TLC. The network sure does know how to jam a lot of commercials in its programming. Tuned in on Saturday night for my first look at the “heralded” documentary about Louisville Women’s b-ball hoop star Shoni Schimmel. And, actually was able to see the film, though it took work and patience, wedged as it was intermittently among a whole lot of commercials.

Frankly, I found the film disappointing.

There was little if any insight into the personality of Schimmel herself, her thoughts about all the adulation, how she related to her teammates and school peers or siblings, any social life away from the game or how or why she chose to play for Jeff Walz at U of L.

The film frankly focused more on her mom, who coached her after the family moved as best they could from off the reservation to Portland, where Shoni could showcase her skills. Not that the focus on mama wasn’t of interest, or that the importance of Schimmel to the Native Americans in the northwest wasn’t fascinating. (Note: Throughout the film they refer to themselves as “Indians.” Who is being politically incorrect now?)

I was simply hoping for more about and from Schimmel herself.

The thematic undercurrent of the film is whether she will play college ball close to home and family and heritage, or move far away to avoid the temptation to return to the “rez” as her uncle did, and so many others have?

Yet the film never explains her decision making process, or how much her family’s feelings mattered in the final decision?

There was no insight into how Jeff Walz — or any other coach recruiting her — approached the star during the recruiting process.

Suffice it to say, that “Off The Rez” is no challenger for “Hoop Dreams.” Which is not only the best recruiting reality ever filmed, but the best basketball film ever.

– Seedy K

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