Steven Soderbergh takes on the NBA in High Flying Bird trailer

The director shot the feature on an iPhone 7 modified with special lenses.


Charles Bramesco


Steven Soderbergh likes to blaze his own path through the film industry, whether that means singlehandedly inventing new methods of financing a project or cutting costs by shooting an entire feature on an iPhone. Appropriately, his next film will focus on a pair of self-proclaimed ‘disruptors’ who also set out to upend the status quo of a big, powerful business.

Netflix has unveiled their first trailer for High Flying Bird, the first of two Soderbergh features slated for release this year, in addition to his gestating Panama Papers picture The Laundromat.

André Holland reunites with scribe Tarell Alvin McCraney – who wrote the play upon which Holland’s star-making Moonlight was based, as well as the script for this film – to portray athletic agent Ray Burke at a time of crisis. A full-blown lockout has shaken the NBA to its foundations, but while the moneyed owners try to get the players back in line, Ray’s launching a daring gambit to shift the balance of power forever.

He’s joined in the cast by Zazie Beetz, Melvin Gregg, Sonja Sohn, and Kyle MacLachlan.

Sharp-eyed viewers may also notice an odd polish on the visuals in the trailer; Soderbergh has once again used the iPhone 7, outfitted with telescopic lenses, to complete all cinematography under budget.

The clip throws a lot at you and quickly, perhaps as a reflection of an inside-basketball film that spends more time in tense boardroom meetings than the hardwood court. Those expecting the sort of rousing, inspirational story so common to the sporting genre will be surprised to find a film primarily concerned with the tension between institutions and individuals.

High Flying Bird will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on 27 January, before arriving on Netflix in the US on 8 February. 

Published 17 Jan 2019

Tags: André Holland High Flying Bird Steven Soderbergh

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