Two Breaths

Help to get Ava off the island

Project type: Fiction Short
Project status: Production
Writer/Director: Kateryna Kurganska Gorbanov
Producer: C. Craig Patterson
Producer: Don John
Help independent filmmakers tell their stories.
Make a donation to Two Breaths today.

Film Independent’s Fiscal Sponsorship program opens the door to nonprofit funding for independent filmmakers and media artists. Donate today and help bring Two Breaths to life.


After a man-made disaster decimates an evergreen island, a stranded 11-year-old girl must find the tenacity to leave behind her home with the help of an unlikely friend – the majestic Manta Ray.


In the not-too-distant future, a small-scale nuclear weapon was created to wage aggressive, tactical wars. Amid the aftermath of a test of such armor going terribly wrong, residents of a paradise-like island must forever abandon their beautiful home.

Despite the grave danger, an 11-year-old Ava stays behind with her father Peter, who refuses to give up and instills in her true love of her land. Ava and Peter chose to adapt to the new reality, but while trying to save the slowly dying island, Peter dies.

Having just missed the final evacuation and now without a clear path to escape, Ava is left alone with her plushie toy Manta-Ray named Mr. Fish. She continues her father’s work and learns how to survive on her own.

When out fishing one day, Ava gets tangled up in the fishing nets and almost drowns, losing Mr. Fish to the deep waters. Fortunately, a real majestic Manta-Ray comes to her rescue in all its grand beauty. Ava befriends the mysterious sea creature named Two Breaths that helps her cope with grief and loneliness.

When the danger of staying on the island grows, Ava must learn how to let go of the past and leave her home forever. Her chance to escape comes about when she sees a patrol boat off the island’s coast. With encouragement from her Manta-Ray friend she swims for it.

The soldiers onboard the boat have orders to terminate everything from the exclusion zone. They aim their weapons at Ava and Two Breaths and stop just short of shooting… They drag Ava onboard but still try to execute the Manta-Ray…

When Ava finally peers over the stern, all she sees is her plushie Manta-Ray toy, Mr. Fish, sinking in the sea in the background of a dying paradise.

Meet the Filmmakers

Kateryna Kurganska Gorbanov – Writer/Director
Kateryna Kurganska Gorbanov is an aspiring Filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She was born and raised in Luhansk–Eastern Ukraine and moved to the U.S. in 2014 as a refugee. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Taras Shevchenko National University and is currently getting her MFA at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Film and Television Production. She was a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship, the most reputable Sloan grant from the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. She is currently a recipient of the Entertainment Partners Producing Scholarship, one of the most prestigious at SCA. She also recently received a merit-based scholarship from the Edward Thomas Troutner Endowed Fund. Kateryna’s short films won numerous awards and were selected by LA Shorts Fest, Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, XXIII Festival Internazionale Corti da Sogni Antonio Ricci, HollyShorts, Catalina Film Festival, and many others.

C. Craig Patterson – Producer
C. Craig Patterson is a filmmaker from New Orleans’ 7th Ward neighborhood. He is a recipient of the George Lucas Family Scholarship and the Edward Small Award for writing and directing at USC. His work has received distinctions from The Blacklist, Sundance Screenwriters Lab, Sundance Episodic Lab, Hillman Grad’s Rising Voices, and the Nicholl Fellowship, in addition to the Award in Screenwriting from Columbia University. His latest film, Fathead, is the recipient of the Innovation in Technology grant from USC and is currently an NAACP Image Award nominee for Outstanding Short Form (Live-Action). C. Craig has also produced projects for Carnegie Hall and directed Paramount+’s critically acclaimed one-hour comedy special for Roy Wood Jr, Imperfect Messenger.

Don John – Producer
Don John is an LA-based pediatrician and MFA film student at USC. A native of NYC, he worked at Columbia University Medical Center before moving to LA in 2018 to work at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Don has had a lifelong love of film and television and took the opportunity to attend film school while in Los Angeles. His interests include writing and producing. He has also traveled extensively, having visited nearly 50 countries. In the future, he hopes to combine his love of medicine with his love of filmmaking.

Make a donation to Two Breaths.


For inquiries, please contact