SXSW 2014 Review: ‘Song from the Forest’ Is a Beautiful Portrait of an American Living in the African Rain Forest


Tondowski Films & Friends

Louis Sarno went to Africa in pursuit of his dream. 25 years ago, he followed a musical tradition into the jungles of the Central African Republic, where he found the Bayaka people. He never left. Accepted into this isolated society, he discovered a new community and a sense of peace.

Or, at least, that was his dream. In hindsight, it can also seem a bit like mythology. The tension between Sarno’s mission and his reality is the crux of Song from the Forest. German filmmaker Michael Obert traveled to the CAR to capture the hybrid lifestyle of this errant Westerner and the family he has made for himself. Sarno has a Bayaka wife and son. When he decides to take 13-year-old Samedi on a trip to America, to meet his uncles and grandparents, Obert follows. The film is a blend of these two locales, a loosely assembled patchwork of insightful moments on two distant continents.

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