Film: Song From the Forest

reviewed at Intl. Documentary Festival Amsterdam - running time 96 min – Published on Variety, by Peter Debruge, Chief International Film Critic, Nov. 29, 2013 … American ethnomusicologist Louis Sarno’s journey into the Congo (and back) is the subject of this mesmerizing documentary.

Having left his native New Jersey long behind, Louis Sarno has dedicated the better part of his life to documenting one of the rarest and most remote musical traditions on earth — that of the Central African Republic’s Bayaka pygmies. In “Song From the Forest,” German director Michael Obert displays only passing interest in this music, offering instead a mesmerizing glimpse into Sarno’s search for a sub-Saharan Walden and the implications of that choice. Best suited to NPR-listening, New Yorker-skimming culture-philes, this loosely structured but intricately sound-designed docu serves as a fest-friendly follow-up to both Sarno’s little-read autobiography and “Oka!,” the even-less-seen fish-out-of-water dramedy inspired by his story … //

… In the film’s strange, sideways way, it’s not until halfway through that this idea of the voyage back to America arises, and yet, the trip ultimately comes to define the film. Sarno explains how several years earlier, his son nearly died, and at that time, he promised Samedi that he would one day show him the world he left behind — one whose material pleasures and personal opportunities seem every bit as appealing to the 13-year-old as they seem misplaced to his father (resulting in the pic’s most conventional yet engaging stretch, including a priceless conversation about what it takes to woo a white woman).

Sarno is an anomaly among men, someone dedicated to preserving a cultural tradition the descendants of which would gladly trade it all for First World comforts. Despite leaving large gaps in Sarno’s tale, the film provides poignant access to his mindset — especially poignant during an early sequence, when the ecstatic combination of forest imagery and 16th-century chanting abruptly cuts to a silent image of him gazing out the window of a Gotham apartment. The moment feels as heartbreaking as those news reports of Ming, the tiger who spent years chained to a radiator in Harlem. The jungle calls, and during the short spell Obert pulls us away from our busy lives, we too can hear its song.

(full text).

Related Links:

on YouTube:

William Byrd: Mass for 4 Voices:

Sites on the Web:

  • Song From The Forest;  /about (by internal links): As a young man, American Louis Sarno heard a song on the radio that gripped his imagination. He followed the mysterious sounds all the way to the Central African rainforest and found their source with the Bayaka Pygmies, a tribe of hunters and gatherers. He never left. Today, twenty-five years later, Louis Sarno has recorded more than 1,000 hours of unique Bayaka music. He is a fully accepted member of the Bayaka society and has a 13-year-old son, Samedi. Once, when Samedi was a baby, he became seriously ill and Louis feared for his life. He held his son in his arms through a frightful night and made him a promise: “If you get through this, one day I’ll show you the world I come from.” Now the time has come to fulfill his promise, and Louis travels with Samedi from the African rainforest to another jungle, one of concrete, glass, and asphalt: New York City. Together, they meet Louis’ family and old friends, including his closest friend from college, Jim Jarmusch. Carried by the contrasts between rainforest and urban America, with a fascinating soundtrack and peaceful, loving imagery, Louis‘ and Samedi‘s stories are interwoven to form a touching portrait of an extraordinary man and his son. The film SONG FROM THE FOREST is a modern epic set between rainforest and skyscrapers;
  • Pygmy Survival Alliance;
  • Survival International: Pygmies;
  • Pygmy peoples on en.wikipedia … any group where adult men are on average less than 150 cm (4 feet 11 inches) tall …; /See also; /External Links;
  • Louis Sarno’s favorite music: Messe für 4 Stimmen / Mass for 4 Voices, by William Byrd/16th century, CD on amazon/music;

in german:

  • Louis Sarno – Song from the Forest, der Dschungel singt in seinem Herzen (Pygme songs der Bayaka), im Spiegel Online/Kultur, von Oliver Kaever, 13. September 2014 (Fotostrecke): er überlebte Malaria, Typhus und Lepra: Aus Liebe zur Musik eines Pygmäen-Volkes verschwand Louis Sarno im afrikanischen Dschungel. Der packende Film “Song from the Forest” begibt sich auf die Spuren eines Besessenen … die Reise verläuft anders als erwartet. Nicht Samedi, sondern seinen Vater überfordern die Lichter der Großstadt … er wurde vom deutschen Journalisten Michael Obert im Urwalt aufgespürt – mit internem Video-Link, 1.45 min;
  • Filmtrailer: Song from the Forest, 2.16 min;

Similar Other Links:

Other YouTube productions labeled with some forest touch:

Real Other Links:

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Russia’s 2nd Ukraine aid convoy of 200 trucks arrives in Lugansk, on Russia Today RT, Sept 13, 2014;

The Terrorism “We” Support in Syria – A First-hand Account of the Use of Mortars against Civilians, on Dissident Voice, by Eva Bartlett, September 12, 2014;

The anti-Islamic State coalition, on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Mohamed Al-Said Idris, Sept 11, 2014: Regional and international powers are exploring the possibility of an anti-Islamic State coalition, but there are still many obstacles on the road …;

Hip Hop is not down with Monsanto, on, by Brentin Mock, Sep 2, 2014;

Minimum & Maximum Viable Civilizations: the physical constraints on the design of civilizations – and how this relates to the Fermi Paradox, on David, August 15, 2014;

… and this:

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