About this project
Mission: Add the powerfully small voices and wonder-filled vision of little girls into our global conversation of girls’ needs, the rights of wild natural spaces, and finding a way to celebrate and preserve them both.
Forest Hymn for Little Girls, a feature-length documentary by award-winning videographer Sara Bonaventura, invites you to follow the exploits, struggles, and daring feats of five preschoolers as they take to the woodland. With the creative insight of this all-female team of artists, from winter-bundled toddling hikes to free-for-all frolics up a mud-thick hill, we’ll get an intimate glimpse of where children play and what they do when given free rein in the wilds of nature. Because it happens every time - young girls grow old and the forest becomes a housing development. One year in the life of our wild world, Forest Hymn for Little Girls allows us all to take a renewing breath before looking to a future for little girls who love the woodland.
Filmed over four seasons, every change in weather presents the girls with new challenges to overcome and new discoveries to be made as they play over the course of a school year. Each crack of branch and blurry mammal shuffle sparks fearful caution or chaotic joy.
Ultimately, Forest Hymn for Little Girls examines how young girls change when given the freedom to play in wildlands during their crucial early years.
With your support, Forest Hymn for Little Girls will remind the world of the power of wild spaces in young girls’ lives and the role of wild spaces in guiding young girls to be proactive citizens in healthy communities.
Perhaps Red Riding Hood started it all in her danger-filled woodland with sharp-toothed predators in every shadow, camped to pounce upon little girls hiking alone in the forest. Be wary, the story warns, wildlands hold nightmares untold…especially for little girls.
Young children need the outdoors, the wild outdoors in particular; and the wild outdoors need them. Help bring the girls’ wildlands story to movie screens in your neighborhood and mine. Each contribution will fund the documentary from production to distribution.
Raintree School and Sara Bonaventura are positioned to tell the girls’ tale. The first forest school in Missouri, Raintree School uses its campus forest as a backdrop for all the children do. Every week, young students toddle down the muddy cliff and into their woodland. Boys and girls build forts, track mammals, collect wild edibles, and use handsaws to fashion spears for fishing and bows and arrows for archery games. The forest, we’ve found, is the most wonder-filled place for little boys and little girls to learn and grow.
Forest Hymn for Little Girls will halt the story of Red at the picking flowers part - before that thick-haired mammal took her as prey, before a burly woodsman came to her rescue. Follow the young girls of Raintree School (two-year-old Isabella, three-year-olds Molly and Nora, and five-year-olds Mimi & Kassie) as they head off the path ready for whatever they may encounter. Celebrate their discoveries about their wild world and themselves in this full-length, four season documentary filmed by award-winning videographer Sara Bonaventura.
Puddles are for Stomping - Because that’s where you’ll find the youngest of the group. Myra, at just two years old, can always be found plopped in any bit of water she can find. Water in her boots is the least of her worries. She’s on a mission to splash. But if an ant or rolie polie trundles by, she’ll follow them to an adventure with hilariously surprising ends.
One voice is not enough. Forest Hymn for Little Girls aims to change the conversation around raising girls in our communities across the globe. To make this big hairy audacious goal get on movie screens, an international team of creative minds has united to share their talent. Composers, illustrators, and animators are collaborating from Czech Republic, France, Finland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, UK and the USA! Nearly every country weaved the tale of wolves keeping girls from the wildlands. Now, these countries’ female artists will come together to let little girls speak for themselves.
Director – Sara Bonaventura is a n independent video maker and atelierista. She is intimately connected to the world-renowned Reggio Approach. She has worked as an educator in museums, such as Peggy Guggenheim, as atelierista for Reggio Children at the Loris Malaguzzi International Center – Ray of lIght Atelier/Digital Langdacapes Atelier – and in schools throughout Reggio Emilia. As an atelierista, Sara documented children’s daily activities and revelations with video.
Sara has been recognized for her experimental shorts and official video clips. She won the Veneto Region Award at the 10th Lago Film Fest, was selected by Joan Jonas for an art residency at Funacion Boton. Her works have been screened in Italy and abroad, most recently at the Anthology Film Archives (NewFilmakers NY Series) and Other Cinema in San Francisco ATA Gallery.
Her works have been described as “very intimate, with a home-video taste” (C. Giraud, Artribune), “an evocative miscellany, quite hypnotic, set in indefinite times, oozing traditional melodies, universal archetypes, aesthetic and poetic paths…” (H. Marsala, Artibune).
Artistic vision – Through tactile video making, the documentary will intertwine analog filming with frame by frame animation of children’s forest art and found footage. Embracing chance with the planned, the film will stand as a montage of memory - a child’s memory of her time in the forest when she was very young.
A provocative collaboration between the videography of Sara Bonatventura and animation style of Elisetta will create a beautiful dynamism between images of the girls and the art they have generated during their reflections and play. With the creative collaboration of the girls, Sara Bonaventura, and Elisetta, the forest sketches of the girls will be put to motion and embedded in the film. Each illustration, drawn by the gentle hands of each young child, reveals her distinctive vision of the woodland and its place in her young life.
Producer – All of you! Remarkably, Forest Hymn for Little Girls is community driven. It is in the beautiful and renowned Reggio-approach spirit that a collective of artists from Italy and the US have folded their ideas into the project and are donated their time to create this film. But this volunteer force of creatives is not enough. With your financial contributions, the spirit of the forest, as seen through the eyes and lives of little girls, can be shared with everyone.
The Soundtrack – providing ambiance and melodic reflection as the girls hike, jump, splash, climb, tumble, and triumph, a collective of composers will reflect the girls intention and voice in sound. Special thanks to: BeMyDelay - Marcella (IT), Carla Bozulich (USA), Dora Bleu (USA) , Gambletron (CAN), IOIOI - Cristiana Fraticelli (IT) , Lau Nau (FI), Patrizia Oliva (IT), Patrizia Mattioli (IT), and Suzanne Langille (USA)
Artwork – With the creative collaboration of the girls, Sara Bonaventura, and fellow animators, the forest sketches of the girls will be put to motion and embedded in the film. Each illustration, drawn by the gentle hands of each young child, reveals her distinctive vision of woodland play.
Risks and challenges
The Brashness of Weather and Little Girls
Timing will the primary challenge. Young children are remarkably unpredictable. Aside from the dreaded teenage years, early childhood is full of surprises. Following five young children during a year will create a filming schedule that is mixed with improvisation and structure, chance and planning. At one moment crying because a caught toad has hopped away to giddy delight at the sighting of a rainbow, a director can’t be sure what the girls will have in store. Their impulsive, emotionally charged nature will be our delight and risk. And in this challenge lies the chaotic beauty of a childhood spent in the wild. The film will celebrate this nature of young children and embrace this particular challenge with the film structure and style. It will construct a story out of splices of time and focus and art, quilted together to create a coherent narrative moving forward in time. Sara Bonaventura’s time as an atelierista in a school for young children in Italy will prove vital in this endeavor.
Missouri weather offers the next challenge. For the director, comfort will be a luxury during the muggy, mosquito-dappled summer and the icy woodland winter. Just as young girls are unpredictable, Missouri weather is moody. Not insurmountable, several seasonal site visits are built into the timeline to ensure proper precautions are taken to ensure filming success during each season.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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