A rare view into contemporary reservation life focuses on five teenage cross-country runners.
For the Navajo and Hopi, running is much more than a sport, it is woven into the cultural fabric of their lives. Encouraged by their elders, many Navajos and Hopis begin running at an early age - to greet the morning sun, to prepare for a ceremony or simply to challenge themselves in the vast, southwestern landscape. In the rugged canyon lands of Northern Arizona, Navajo and Hopi cross-country runners from two rival high schools vie for the state championship while striving to find their place among their native people and the larger American culture. Win or lose, what they learn over the course of two racing seasons has a dramatic effect on the rest of their lives. Combining interviews with verite-style shooting, RACING THE REZ offers a rare view into the surprising complexity and diversity of contemporary reservation life, from the point of view of five teenage boys on the cusp of adulthood. The documentary follows Ryan, Dennis, Billy, Johnny and Joyai from the classrooms to their remote, un-electrified homes, from grueling runs across canyons and mesas to their ultimate day of reckoning - the state meet - and beyond.