While docus about Native American high school athletics abound these days, they’re surprisingly different in focus and tone, save for one common denominator: All present sports as a way out of a cycle of alcoholism, disease and poverty. “Lady Warriors,” perhaps the least ambitious of the lot, possesses the amiable virtues of laid-back simplicity. Unfolding in linear progression from workouts to meets, it traces the 2000 season of the Tuba City, Ariz., girls’ cross-country team in pursuit of its fourth state championship. Winner of several awards at various Southwest and Western festivals, pic should fare well on the larger docu circuit. An indie cable and/or PBS slot seem assured.
If cross-country running lacks the built-in drama of, say, basketball, filming it allows for a more natural image flow from sporting event to larger culture. Running is an integral part of both Navajo and Hopi traditions, a point underscored with recurring footage of one of the runners in full ceremonial regalia. Occasionally poetic long-shot vistas of hogans and elevated pueblo cities or a huge spectral moon in a twilight sky figure naturally as workaday backdrops to the ongoing training.