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A short documentary about a Native American Omaha man’s belief that he can pray cancer away from his wife. Read more

Brooklyn, NY Documentary
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This project was successfully funded on May 10, 2012.

A short documentary about a Native American Omaha man’s belief that he can pray cancer away from his wife.

Brooklyn, NY Documentary
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About this project


Cancer forced Shoshana, a Native American Omaha spiritual leader, to leave her tribe and move with her family to urban Michigan for treatment. Five years into the treatment and still suffering severely, her husband Nathan now believes that the traditional ways of their people are her only chance.  Between Earth and Sky follows Nathan and the family as they travel back to their Omaha reservation in Nebraska in search of the most suitable willow poles from which they will construct a purification sweat lodge and ceremonial tipi. He will build the tipi at a gathering of elders that takes place each May in front of the White House in Washington DC. Inside Nathan plans to perform various rituals in which he will engage the elders and together they will pray for healing.


In 2011, after a career as an animation producer, I moved from Bulgaria to New York to work on social documentary films. Interested in learning more about Native American people and culture in the US, I immersed myself in the traditions of the Omaha tribe. I met Nathan, Alethea and Zakiah while they were performing a Becoming of Age ceremony in Washington DC in January and was deeply moved by their struggle to integrate their traditional lives and philosophy into a modern Western culture they often find hostile and somewhat oppressive.

Both Shoshana and her husband Nathan explain that living away from the reservation is a big challenge for them, as the Omaha depend on their tribe in order to perform traditional ceremonies. Nevertheless they have been pragmatic in their approach to survival, following both native and contemporary methods while simultaneously teaching their two children (Alethea,13 and Zukaia,14) the indigenous ways.

But now, as the efficacy of Shoshana’s western medical treatment wanes, an even greater emphasis is placed on their Native American traditions.  The family will travel hundreds of miles to perform and partake in a ritual they feel is key to Shoshana’s survival and I will document their journey.  I will also be integrating footage shot by Althea and Zukaia in the weeks leading up to and during the journey.  (I taught them how to use a flipcam and they have been filming since March.)  Thus, the storyline will unfold through the eyes of the two generations in the family.


Between Earth and Sky is the star meaning of  Zakiah’s Native American name: Nioka Glhezhe. It refers to the link between all past and future generations in a family during the short moment of the day (sunrise and sunset) when the earth and sky get together into a red strip of light. The mother and father in the Omaha family are also called Mother Earth and Father Sky.


If successful, this campaign will result in a fully produced short independent 20-minute documentary film.

We’ve already invested in two research trips to Washington, DC and Ypsilanti, MI, as well as necessary equipment rental.  In addition, post-production services are already secured and the majority of the film crew has agreed to work on the project on deferral basis.

The Kickstarter funds will be used solely to cover travel expenses.  Our 20-day trip covers roughly 3000 miles. This means that every dollar you trust us with, helps the film move half a mile forward!

The money will be used for:

  • Mini Van rental for 20 days
  • Motel Accommodation (cheap!) for a film crew of 4
  • Gas and Tolls (3000 miles)
  • Food for the crew (cheap! but vital!)

Every dollar exceeding our goal will make the film even better. Any additional funds will be used for graphic design, promotion and distribution.


Director / Producer: Maria Stanisheva

Director of Photography: Dafne Capella

Additional Camera: Alethea Mae Phillips, Zakiah Mae Phillips

Sound / Swing: Louis Mole

Associate Producer: Dorottya Mathe

Story Consultant: James Lecesne

Production Consultant: Andrea Swift

Editing Consultant: Linda Hattendorf


Maria Stanisheva (Director/Producer)

Born in Sofia, Bulagria, Maria has studied at New York Film Academy, Sofia University and CEU, Budapest. An experienced film producer of animated films at Compote Collective, Maria has recently expanded her film interest as an independent documentary filmmaker. Filmography includes the animated MEDIA & DIVERSITY campaign used by the British Council in over 30 countries and several documentary short projects including her latest co-production FATHER (delegate producer), an animated-documentary film exploring the father-child relationship from the perspective of 5 animation directors.

Dafne Capella (Director of Photography)

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Dafne holds three degrees of Documentary Filmmaking and Media, including an MA from Paris VIII University. Her experience as a DP has been gained while working among others on THE KNOTS OF EACH OF US, FEMININE FAVELA, BRAZIL 8.069, FRAGMENTS, ALMOST, IN BLACK AND WHITE. All photos used in the project promotion are made by Dafne during our first visit to Ypsilanti in Jan, 2012.

James Lecesne (Story Consultant)

Academy Award winner James Lecesne created several one-person shows including WORD OF MOUTH, which won the NY Drama Desk Award and the NYOuter Critics Circle Award. TREVOR, which started out as a piece he performed in WORD OF MOUTH, was later turned into a short film and went on to receive the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short . TREVOR also inspired THE TREVOR PROJECT, the only nationwide 24-hour suicide prevention and crisis intervention Lifeline for LGBT and Questioning youth. James created THE ROAD HOME Stories of Children of War, presented at the International Peace Initiative at the Hague. For TV, he adapted Armistead Maupin’s FURTHER TALES OF THE CITY and has written for  the popular TV show WILL & GRACE. Lecesne also founded The After The Storm Foundation, a non profit arts organization designed to benefit the youth of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and he is the executive producer of the award winning documentary film, AFTER THE STORM.

Andrea Swift (Production Consultant)

Chair of Documentary Program, New York Film Academy, Andrea Swift holds an MFA from Columbia University. She directed and Executive Produced PBS documentary newsmagazine series, IN THE LIFE (two time Telly-winner, three-time Emmy-nominee). Writer of the original pilot, CATCH (Scriptapalooza TV Award winner). Writer, Director of the short film COMPANY (Raindance Best of Festival Selection). Director, Producer, Editor of the internationally-aired documentary DEAFSMITH a nuclear folktale (featured at the United Nations Earth Summit, multi-festival award winner including the Silver at the Chicago International Film Festival and 2nd prize at the American Film and Video Festival). Associate Producer of the short film THE KILLERS (winner DGA award, Best Short Film Panorama Award at Berlin, New Directors/New Films).

Linda Hattendorf (Editing Consultant)

Linda has been working in the New York documentary community for more than a decade. She holds degrees in Literature, Art History, and Media Studies. Her editing work has aired on PBS, A&E, and The Sundance Channel as well as in theatrical venues and many festivals. She edited the award-winning documentary 7th STREET, directed by Josh Pais; Julia Pimsleur's BROTHER BORN AGAIN; Christina Lundberg's ON THE ROAD HOME: A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY GUIDED BY REMARKABLE WOMEN, Nancy Recant's JIN SHIN JYUTSU, and Danny Schechter's IN DEBT WE TRUST. Her recent debut as a director with the documentary THE CATS OF MIRIKITANI won awards at more than 20 film festivals.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone for your time and support!

If you like the project but cannot support us financially,                               please spread the news!

Comments, questions or suggestions? Get in touch via:

We will gladly get back to you :)


  • No. We can see it, but no one else.

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  • It's all or nothing. Kickstarter will only bill your card upon the successful achievement of the goal so help us reach it!

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  • Yes, since this is all or nothing, the goal has been set at the lowest necessary minimum. Like any film, the better the budget, the more freedom and quality becomes available. Exceeding our goal will allow us better graphic design, editing, Native American music rights, promotion and distribution.

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  • Yes, you simply need an active Amazon account.

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    If you help us cross another 50 miles you’ll get a SPECIAL THANK YOU on the film's credits + a DVD + FILM POSTER

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    Get us 100 miles closer to completing the film! You will get an INVITATION TO THE FILM PREMIERE IN NEW YORK (end of August 2012, travel not included) + Special Thank You + a DVD + film poster

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    250 miles! You get the ASSOCIATE PRODUCER credit + an invitation to the film premiere in NY + DVD + film poster.

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    500 miles! This makes you our CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER (credit on IMDB). You will also get an invitation to the premiere in NY + DVD + film poster.

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Funding period

- (25 days)