Hans-Martin Liebing was introduced to Choctaw Chickasaw artist Johnny Pate by fellow filmmaker Christopher Morse in Summer of 2003. At the time Hans was in graduate film school at UCLA and in the process of developing a Native American narrative feature set in Central Texas. Johnny and Hans became friends and have been collaborating on projects every since.
During their first encounter Johnny told Hans about the story of the paintings he had done six months before the tragic events of September 11th. The paintings showed New York on fire and airplanes flying into the World Trade Center. When 9/11 happened, Johnny was traumatized -- after all, he had seen the events in his mind and painted them. He was asking himself if there was anything he could have done to prevent these events. Haunted by dreams of the end-times, Johnny remembered the stories he was told by his father growing up, in particular the tales about the origins and the end of our world. As a kid, his father had taken Johnny and his sisters on extensive trips through the Indian reservations of the Southwest and had taught them how to live self-sufficient and simple lives in harmony with the earth. His father, at the time, was working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), identifying and shutting down plants and installations that presented environmental hazards. At the pinnacle of his career Johnny’s father died -- suddenly and unexpectedly. The exact cause of his death is unknown and Johnny to this day suspects that it was related to one of his father’s last assignments.
In 2005 Johnny had a series of visions about the end-times and started painting again. Recalling a number of Native American prophecies his father and uncles had told him about, he decided to return to the reservations to talk to elders and medicine men about how they were seeing the future of humankind. Intrigued by Johnny’s plans, Hans asked Johnny if he could document his trip and Johnny agreed. Hans then called German filmmaker and former UCLA classmate Tore Schmidt, at the time living in Berlin, asking him if he wanted to accompany them on this adventurous road trip. A few weeks later, Tore stepped off a plane at Dallas Fort Worth Airport and the two filmmakers packed their film equipment into Johnny’s Land Rover and the three of them hit the road. Little did they know about the life-changing journey they were about to embark on —