Set amongst the rugged forests and shorelines of the British Columbia, Silvicola is a tableau of the complex web of cultural and economic forces which compel and constrain modern forestry practices. A story told through the eyes of an eclectic mix of characters whose lives and livelihoods are intimately entangled with the forest, Silvicola employs sinuating vignettes and industrial soundscapes to explore the tensions and dilemmas between commodification and conservation. Contemplative and sensorially immense, Silvicola embeds the viewer within remote spaces and worksites normally hidden from view, from the verdure of old growth canopies to the destructive gigantism of mechanical harvesting to the numbing rhythm of sapling nurseries. A study of both our connection and disconnection with the forest, Silvicola is a film which demands a rethink of the divisions between natural and industrial worlds by spotlighting the hidden labour and logics of modern forestry.

  • Jean-Philippe Marquis
  • Jean-Philippe Marquis
  • Jean-Philippe Marquis
  • Emmet Walsh
  • Jean-Philippe Marquis
  • Oscar Vargas
  • Samuel Laflamme
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Environmental
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 20 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
    April 28, 2023
    World Premiere
    Official Selection, John Kastner Award
  • DOXA Documentary Film Festival
    May 7, 2023
    BC Premiere
    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • Cinema Politica
    Country: Canada
Director Biography - Jean-Philippe Marquis

Jean-Philippe Marquis is a documentary filmmaker and director of photography based in Bella Coola, British Columbia. He has ten years of cinematography experience on documentaries and television series. As a director, his documentary work is often non-linear, and dwells on themes of contested geographies and resource extraction. He has made short films in Palestine, Congo-Kinshasa, and Cameroon, and has filmed extensively throughout Yukon and Western Canada. Jean-Philippe’s most recent work is Silvicola (Hot Docs, DOXA 2023), a feature-length documentary offering an unusually intimate glimpse into the people, processes, and paradoxes of modern forestry practices. Silvicola was produced with support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council, and the NFB. An alumnus of the Hot Docs Accelerator program (2018), Jean-Philippe is the recipient of a Leo Award for Best Cinematography on a Documentary Series (2018) as well as an IDRC Award for International Development Journalism (2012). He holds degrees in journalism from Concordia University and anthropology from Université de Montréal.

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Director Statement

The inspiration for this film grew from my own experience, having worked in the forestry industry for many years. Over the years, the sheer scale of clear-cut logging that I witnessed left a powerful impression, and I wanted to find some way of documenting and sharing these images with a broader audience. At the same time, I found myself fascinated by the personal histories and perspectives of people involved in various aspects of the industry.

Living in isolated bush camps amongst loggers, fallers, treeplanters, and a motley crew of others, I was all-too-aware of the internal dialogues and dilemmas that stemmed from participation in an industry whose practices were anything but sustainable. Getting to the heart of these incongruencies required that I avoid reproducing a generic ‘good guy, bad guy’ dichotomy. As such, Silvicola is neither a polemic nor a factually-driven investigation of the forestry industry, so much as a love letter to the forest, driven by the reflections of people whose identities are deeply rooted in it.

By centring the voices of forestry workers themselves, I hope to have captured some aspect of the nuance to their lived experiences, and of the wisdom that comes with such direct experience. For me, there is something altogether more powerful in hearing a millwright or retired logger call for a rethink of forestry practices than, say, a spokesperson from an environmental NGO.