Silent Forests

: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Completed


SILENT FORESTS is an intimate, character-driven portrait of conservationists and activists who are fighting against all odds to stop forest elephant poaching in Africa's Congo Basin region.


After a study revealed that more than half the central African forest elephant population has been lost to poaching in the last decade, there has been a concerted effort to save those that remain. SILENT FORESTS will explore this story through a range of dynamic subjects; including one of Cameroon’s first female eco-guards, a grassroots wildlife law enforcement group, a Congolese biologist studying elephant behavior, a reformed elephant poacher, and a team of anti-poaching sniffer dogs led by a Czech conservationist. As passionate and tenacious as these conservationists are, they are up against huge institutional challenges like corruption and lack of funding that threaten to derail all their attempts to fight for the future of the forest elephant.


This film will take viewers to the frontlines of a conservation battle using an immersive, vérité-style approach. SILENT FORESTS will be a character-driven and cinematic look at the battle for the future of the forest elephant. We plan to take advantage of Congo and Cameroon’s breathtaking beauty by filming time lapses, wildlife scenics, and aerials to help make this film as cinematically captivating as possible. The storyline will be driven by scenes and moments with our main characters. These scenes will be buttressed by explanations from interviews that speak to the big picture of what is happening right now in the Congo Basin… and what is at stake if they aren’t able to halt this ivory highway.

SILENT FORESTS will be my third film that has to do with wildlife crime and illegal trade; it is a subject I am both passionate about and familiar with. My hope is that this documentary will shed light on the severity of the situation in this region, and how damaging the ivory trade is for all species -- humans included. The eventual goal of this project is to educate the public about this under-reported conservation issue, and engage audiences to support groups dedicated to ending the Congo Basin poaching epidemic before it’s too late.


Mariah Wilson - Director/Producer

For over ten years Mariah Wilson has produced content for PBS (Nature, History Detectives), National Geographic (Doomsday Preppers, Lockdown), A&E (Intervention), Animal Planet, Discovery (Hate In America), History Channel, Weather Channel, MSNBC, VICE Media, Vocativ, and The Smithsonian Institution. In 2009 she completed her first documentary REVEALING HATE about the white supremacist movement in America. The film played at film festivals across the country and garnered several awards. It was distributed by Cactus Three Films and Dark Hollow Films, and has aired on PBS, LINK TV, and Russia Today. In 2011 she completed VOLUNTEER, a film about eco-volunteering experiences in Uganda and Fiji that touch on worldwide poaching issues. It is being distributed by Optimum TV and Dark Hollow Films. She recently co-produced Andrew Berends’ film MADINA’S DREAM about conflict in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, which premiered at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival. She is in post-production for KAZIRANGA (Humane Society ACE Award Runner-Up) about the rhino poaching crisis in India. Links:


Connect With The Filmmakers:


IFP Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2019
Hot Docs Deal Makers 2016
American Documentary Film Fund Pitch 2016
Telluride Mountainfilm Commitment Grant 2016
IFP Film Week: Spotlight on Docs 2016
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Pitch 2017
DOC NYC "Only In New York" Pitch 2017
World Premiere: Santa Barbara Int'l Film Festival 2019
Finalist: Feature Competition, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, 2019


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