Short Film Profile

Between Earth and Sky

Catholic Boarding School childhood, followed by the Vietnam war and alcoholism, gave Nathan Phillips, aka Sky Man according to his Native American Omaha belief, a good reason to be angry with the world. He managed to move on by meeting his Earth woman but now that the family is fighting cancer, his anger is growing.

Film notes

Director's statement

In 2011 I moved from Bulgaria to New York to work on Social Issue Documentary films. When I met Nathan’s family for the first time I was moved by their story and struggle to integrate into a modern western culture they often found hostile and oppressive.

According to me both sides of the Phillips family story - Nathan’s violent past and Shoshana’s struggle with cancer - incorporated some of the social issues which the Native American minority faces in the US: child harassment and the horrific attempts of the Catholic boarding school system to deprive them from identity; poverty; alcohol and drug abuse; and total detachment from the country’s ineffective social net systems. I thought that using a very simple story about love, healing and survival, I could shed some light into some of these issues.

Like with any film, I went on a personal journey tackling my own stereotypes and beliefs and came out of the experience with a revised truth. When the film crew and I arrived in Ypsilanti, Michigan, we had to abandon our initial plans. The trip to the reservation, which the family were planning to visit in order to prepare for a big spiritual event, became optional and entirely dependent on our budget. Money talk took over which gradually became more and more aggressive. Each day Nathan asked for something new and at some point I had to draw a clear line and state that apart from gas and hotel expenses we are not going to pay them to participate in the film or cover any of the other expenses which were never part of our agreement. As a result the trip that we were aiming to shoot never took place an I ended up with a different story - one about violent past, present poverty and a lot of passive aggression.
native american




Copyright © 2012 Maria Stanisheva

Previous screenings

The Freestyle Life Film Exhibition | 2013
20 Jan – 31 Mar | Online, United States
28 Feb – 2 Mar | New York, United States

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Information on this profile is provided by the film owners and/or compiled from available sources | Profile updated 14 Oct 2012