Segments in this Video

Forest Songs (05:23)


Louis Sarno describes his first experiences foraging in the rain forest with Ewungi. Once, while recording wildlife sounds, a gorilla approached him.

Search for Meaning (03:45)

Bayaka hunters find no game in the forest. Jim Jarmusch recalls how Sarno's experience with the Bayaka changed him. They were disillusioned with American government and society, as young men.

Isolated from Modern Society (03:11)

Bayaka people sing around a campfire. Sarno listens to world news on a radio in a cabin. He describes learning about the Soviet Union's fall while in the rain forest.

Waiting out a Storm (03:18)

Sarno enters camp while it is raining and shelters with his son Samedi. His wife asks Samedi to fetch water.

Living among the Bayaka (03:31)

Sarno feels privileged to spend his life among the rain forest community. His wife is happy that he will take Samedi to visit the U.S.; she and her mother will wait in the village until they return.

Bayaka Flute (03:17)

Sarno recalls when community musicians playing at night. He donated recordings to a museum; his decision to settle permanently with the Bayaka is unusual for researchers.

Bayaka Mystique (04:38)

A friend recalls Sarno's initial exposure to pygmy music and his decision to immerse himself in their culture. Sarno meditates to medieval European polyphony and compares it to spiritual, communal Bayaka music.

Musical Community (04:53)

Bayaka children incorporate rhythms into everyday activities. Hear a story about a Moaka dying and returning to life as a white person. Sarno brings a friend tuberculosis medication.

Two Sons (05:13)

Sarno lends money to members of his Bayaka community. A man sings and plays a thumb harp. In his affluent U.S. neighborhood, Sarno's brother discusses their radically different lifestyles.

Family Expectations (05:16)

Sarno's father opposed his career in music, but finally accepted his life in Africa. Sarno wanted to compose but is grateful for recording Bayaka music. Boys talk about Samedi's trip to America. Community members dance and sing in the rain forest.

Fulfilling a Promise (04:29)

When Samedi was three months old, he became critically ill; Sarno said he would show him the world. They begin their journey to America. Sarno's brother admires him for pursuing happiness in Africa.

Journey to America (04:41)

Sarno and Samedi travel by car, ferry boat, and plane from the Central African Republic to New York City. Samedi watches the urban landscape from a taxi cab.

Exploring New York City (04:19)

Sarno shows Samedi around the city and explains why they need money in a capitalist society. Sarno brings Jarmusch and another friend tree sap and a giant seed pod as Central African Republic souvenirs. Samedi plays video games.

Artificial World (03:42)

Sarno and Samedi visit an aquarium; Samedi asks for a camera. Sarno sees life in New York City as disconnected from reality. Bayaka community members butcher bush meat.

Bayaka Livelihood Threats (03:15)

Sarno often encounters poachers in the forest; animals are becoming scarce. The Bayaka have managed the forest for generations. Sarno has appealed to the World Wildlife Fund to help protect pygmy food sources; view logging footage.

Tropical Diseases (03:50)

Sarno consults a doctor on treating his hepatitis B and D. Later, he takes Samedi to the beach.

Family Visit (03:39)

Sarno and his brother reminisce about their childhood and discuss the tropical diseases Sarno contracted. Samedi plays with his American cousin. Houses in the neighborhood are decorated for Christmas.

Evocative Music (04:06)

Samedi takes a martial arts lesson. Sarno listens to a Bayaka recording with a colleague; it brings back memories of beginning his relationship with the community. Samedi is on an adventure in America.

Hunting Prayer (03:34)

Samedi and Sarno select souvenirs to bring to the Bayaka community. Samedi wants a gun; Sarno tries to distract him. Bayaka people ask God for meat. Samedi wants Louis to buy gifts other than toys.

Parenting Challenges (02:57)

Sarno tries to get Samedi to try American food. Bayaka community members explain how Sarno came looking for their music. He does not hunt, but buys meat for the community and pays for their healthcare.

Financial Issues (02:46)

Sarno has gone into debt paying to send Bayaka children to school. He worries about telling community members he does not have money; without income sources, he cannot remain in the village for long.

Solitude in Company (05:02)

Samedi and Sarno take a train trip to visit a friend Sarno has not seen for 30 years. She recalls his comfort with the Bayaka community, despite their language and cultural barrier. He discusses how younger generations are interested in modern lifestyles.

Return Journey (01:54)

Sarno and Samedi load their suitcases into a taxi; Samedi plays a guitar. A Bayaka woman tells the story of the Moaka coming back as a white person.

Credits: Song from the Forest (04:31)

Credits: Song from the Forest

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Song From The Forest

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
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3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



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.

Length: 96 minutes

Item#: BVL138535

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

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