The Daughters of the Forest

In one of the most remote forests left on earth, a group of girls attends a revolutionary high school and learns to build a better future.

Film Signature Image
Women of the World, Global Voices
Premiere Date
July 10, 2016
60 minutes
Funding Initiative

Samantha Grant

Samantha Grant is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, journalist, and educator. Her approach to storytelling is influenced by both her undergraduate degree in American Studies/Literature from Yale University and her Master’s of Journalism degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Through her San Francisco-based production Show more company GUSH productions, Grant has created work for clients including MTV, ABC, PBS, CNN, NPR, PRI, FRONTLINE, and Al Jazeera International. In 2007, she was named a Carnegie/Knight fellow as part of the News 21 Initiative on the Future of Journalism and in 2011 was named a BAVC MediaMaker Fellow. A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at The New York Times, Grant’s first feature documentary, was released theatrically and aired nationally on PBS in May 2014 as part of Independent Lens. Grant's film Daughters of the Forest tells the story of a revolutionary girls high school being built in one of the last pristine forests in South America. When she’s not shooting or producing independent documentaries, you can find Grant lecturing at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and Stanford’s Knight Fellowship program. Show less


Carl Byker

Documentary filmmaker Carl Byker has produced more than 30 hours of television for PBS, including multiple episodes for the series FRONTLINE and American Experience. His films have won the Primetime Emmy for best non-fiction series of the year, the Columbia/Dupont Silver Baton, the Independent Documentary Association award for Best Series of the Show more Year, the Kodak “Vision Award” from the Producers’ Guild of America, the Peabody Award, and the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for Best Collaboration for a project with FRONTLINE, NPR, and ProPublica. His films have also been nominated six times by the Writers’ Guild of America for Best Non-Fiction Television Script of the Year and have won the award twice. Show less

We fund untold stories for public media.

Learn more about funding opportunities with ITVS.

The Film

Daughters of the Forest tells the powerful, uplifting story of a small group of girls in one of the most remote forests left on earth who attend a radical high school — Centro Educativo Mbaracayú (CEM) — where they learn to protect the threatened forest and forge a better future for themselves. Set in the untamed wilds of the Mbaracayú Reserve in rural Paraguay, this intimate verité documentary offers a rare glimpse of a disappearing world where timid girls grow into brave young women even as they are transformed by their unlikely friendships with one another. Filmed over the course of five years, we follow the girls from their humble homes in indigenous villages through the year after their graduation to see exactly how their revolutionary education has and will continue to impact their future lives.