Last year, Maria Stanisheva moved to New York City from Bulgaria to study documentary filmmaking at New York Film Academy. “I chose the NYFA Doc program because it was the most intense hands-on program I could find and I think it was a great choice! The program is structured around 6 film projects (two video logs and 4 shorts) in 11 months, which keeps us extremely busy (often meaning more than 10 hours per day in school.) I have had the steepest learning curve in my life and have learned from some of the best in their field – professors who are also very productive filmmakers. I also met some amazing young and diverse filmmakers. Doing a documentary program in a city like New York is amazing fun because you quickly get to know the city in its endless diversity.”
The New York Film Academy documentary student’s thesis Between Earth and Sky will focus on the healing process of a Sioux spiritual leader stricken with cancer. “I hope my next project will take me across America all the way to Nebraska where, together with my team, we will follow an Omaha Native American family.” Maria and her crew are joining Shoshana Phillips and her family hundreds of miles from their Omaha reservation. Cancer forced Shoshana to leave her tribe and move with her family to urban Michigan for treatment. Five years into the treatment, still suffering, her husband Nathan believes the traditional ways of the Sioux are her only chance.
Between Earth and Sky follows Nathan and the family as they travel back to their Omaha reservation in search of the most suitable willow poles from which they will construct a purification sweat lodge and ceremonial tipi. Nathan will build the tipi at a gathering of elders that takes place each May in front of the White House. Nathan plans to perform various rituals in which he will engage the elders and together they will pray for healing.