Song From The Forest **1/2 out of 4 stars
directed by Michael Obert
This one comes way under the radar. But if you’re looking to get transported to another world, in this case a rain forest in Central Africa, look no further. Song From The Forest, with the guidance of the documentary’s subject Louis Sarno, and the you-are-there approach by director Michael Obert, makes us a part of the Bayaka Pygmies, a tribe of hunters and gatherers living in leave-huts deep in the rain forest. The funny thing is, Louis is actually a white-member of this tribe, a New York City native, and even college graduate, with friends like cult-director Jim Jarmusch(who makes a cameo). But around 25 years ago, Louis, a musician himself, was introduced to African music, the sounds of which gripped him enough to put him on the path to Central Africa to find more of this music. And with that, he eventually found and became a member of the Bayaka tribe, leaving his life in New York behind. He even has a son, Samedi, who is thirteen in the film. When Samedi was a baby, he became almost fatally ill, and a rightfully scared Louis held him in his arms, making promises that he would show Samedi the big city some day.
That’s the set up. And we watch, as Louis and Samedi make that trip to New York, putting us in the crossing point between two completely different jungles. It’s obviously a lot for Samedi to absorb, and Louis would prefer for him to not get too attached to the “artificial” atmosphere. How does it affect Samedia when he returns home to the forest? The film offers glib answers, with an ending that stops everything short as the leave the city. But until then, with sublime images and sounds intact, Song From The Forest keeps you dazzled, and mesmerized.