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A forest school girl is a creature like no other.  Call her spunky.  Call her courageous.  Call her muddy and wild and adventurous.  Call her skillfully resourceful and independent.   Each girl of the film, aged 3-5, is uniquely herself.  And each has a story to tell of her time in the forest.  All hailing from St. Louis and students of Raintree School, the first forest school in Missouri, the girls of Forest Hymn shared their days with the film team, telling their stories, reflecting on each day's encounters and challenges, and created artwork of their beloved wild spaces.


The girls: Miya, Molly, Mila, Ellie, Nora, Vivienne, Kassie, Eliana, Isabel, Emma, and Myra have steadfastly taken to the forest, mud gear on and ready to have the camera follow them along their adventures and discoveries.



Sara Bonaventura is an independent videographer, media artist and educator. She is inspired by radical pedagogy, constructivist and experiential education and her work as educator is informed by the Reggio Approach, inquiry and concept based curriculum. She has a MA degree in Art History and she has worked in the art world for many years, for the Venice Biennale and the PGC as Guggenheim docent. She received the Sino per Niio Illumination Art Prize and the Veneto Region Award at the 10th Lago Film Fest. She has been selected by Joan Jonas for an art residency at Fundación Botín, her works have been screened in Italy and abroad, most recently, at the San Francisco Independent Short Film Festival, at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Miami New Media Festival, the Anthology Film Archives in New York City, at Rome MACRO Museum, the Cinemateca do MAM in Rio for Dobra Festival and and in one of the world biggest public screen in Hong Kong. Her works have been described as  “an evocative miscellany, quite hypnotic, set in indefinite times, oozing traditional mythologies, universal archetypes, aesthetic and poetic paths...” (H. Marsala, Artribune).


Brandi Cartwright has spent her professional career honing a progressive teaching style and philosophy congruent with her goal of acting as an agent of change in the struggling education system.  She is a certified teacher and has attended Northwestern University, St. Thomas University, and Arizona State University.  She has taught at the pre-kindergarten, middle school, and secondary education levels. The successful approach she has developed served as the seed for Raintree School’s educational philosophy. Brandi co-founded Raintree School in 2007 and she worked there till 2019. Brandi continues to advocate for students' needs and celebrate their capabilities. She co-produced our documentary.


Emily Gillain has been teaching young children in a variety of settings for the past 6 years. She has a passion for learning and understanding how people connect with each other through their environment and positive relationships. She has taken this interest down an avenue of research and writing. As she continues to consume information surrounding progressive education, she aims to pull it all together in a multimedia form soon to come. She currently writes for a video production company in her hometown of St. Louis. She enjoys the human aspect of helping clients tell their unique stories through an authentic video production. She largely contributed to our film production as assistant director.

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Ilya graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University in 2003 and began work as a lead concept and UI/UX developer at Knowledge Dynamics, a technology firm in Chicago. In 2004, Ilya’s career switched gears as he moved to St. Louis and began work as Director of WellHome, an agency specializing in helping the elderly and disabled maintain self-sufficiency and independence. In 2006, Ilya co-founded Raintree School: an independent, Reggio Emilia inspired school serving children aged two through kindergarten and Missouri’s only Forest School. As Head of School, Ilya oversaw tremendous growth and the school’s rise to the forefront of early childhood education in St. Louis. In 2013, Ilya presided over the planning, design and construction of Raintree’s new, eleven-acre, $3.2M forest school campus. In 2015, he became a founding board member of the Experiential Education Exchange: a regional organization promoting the development of experiential education theory and practice through workshops, trainings and networking opportunities for both formal and informal educators. In 2017, Ilya directed the design and construction of the school’s $1.2M expansion. When he is not at work, Ilya pursues hobbies in woodworking, photography, and piloting rotary aircraft. He co-produced our documentary.


Elisetta (Elisa Fabris) lives and works in Treviso.

After the Artistic High School she attends sporadically IUAV in Venice. After a scholarship from the Venetian Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation, she starts working as videomaker. She specializes in 2D animation, focusing mainly on video clips, advertising, tutorials, opener and b2b. Among her projects, she has animated the illustrations of two iOS applications for children, called Little Smiling Minds. From 2014 she is also active in the field of illustration, with a personal picture book publication and various collective exhibitions. She is part of the independent comics collective Super Squalo Terrore. She worked as fellow animator to animate the girls' drawings.


Andrea Valfrè is an Italian sound engineer with a degree as Associate of Science in Sound Engineering from Full Sail (Orlando, FL, US). He has been collaborating with some of the best known Italian artists and many european productions, working at the Condulmer Recording Studio as an in-house engineer. He runs also his Magister Recording Area, where he works recording and mixing records for Italian and international artists. In 2009 he received a Latin Grammy nomination as sound engineer and he has worked on many successful projects in Mexico (five platinum records) and Latin America, and on music for television in US networks (E!, NBC, etc) tv series like E! True Hollywood stories, E! Original SpecialsMagic City (nominated for Emmy award 2014), ArrowMistresses, Revenge etc. From 2016 he has been collaborating with Doc Servizi and Freecom, and in the Synchro studio project. He also plays with the duo Hypersleep Conviction, producing synth pop electronic music for TV shows and corporate videos.


Francesco Marotta is an Italian Producer, Editor and Colorist, based in Venice, Italy. He started working in private TV as an operator and editor; he became interested in non linear editing systems and then he switched to digital. Over the years he has specialized in fiction, documentaries, videoclips and advertising. He approached color correction in 2009, and later founded his own production company, Tunastudio, whereby he has been producing audiovisual products that have been purchased by broadcaster and production companies, such as RAI Cinema and FOX Channel. From 2015 he has been working for Doc Servizi team. To name a few documentaries in his editing experience: Richard Wagner, Diario veneziano della sinfonia ritrovata directed by Gianni Di Capua, with Kublai Film (premiered at the US Library of Congress in 2014 and presented at Bayreuth Festival in 2015),  Morricone, Note di pace directed by Giovanni Morricone, Sperduti nel buio, directed by Lorenzo Pezzano, produced by Tunastudio - RAI Cinema.

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