SONG FROM THE FOREST

A FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY BY MICHAEL OBERT

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 over 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’s 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, their stories are interwoven to form a touching portrait of an extraordinary man, and his son. A modern epic between rainforest and skyscrapers.

» Trailer

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Cast and Crew:

Cast: Louis Sarno, Samedi Mathurin Bokombe, Jim Jarmusch, Noel Lobley, Wanda Boeke, Steven Sarno, François Moukouté and others

Directer/ Writer: Michael Obert Producers: Alex Tondowski, Ira Tondowski, DoP: Siri Klug Editor: Wiebke Grundler Location Sound: Timo Selegnia Supervising Sound Editor: Marian Mentrup Ko-ProduKtion: Heino Deckert/ ma.ja.de, Jutta Krug/ WDR Förderung: Film Fund, Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg

THE BAYAKA PROJECT

Parallel to our work on SONG FROM THE FOREST, Tondowski Films and Michael Obert have brought the BAYAKA PROJECT to life. Regardless of political and religious ties, the goal is to help this charitable association, Louis Sarno and his community in their struggle for survival. The project aims to provide improved medical care, nutrition and education, and to contribute to the musical legacy of the Bayaka. The organization and administration of the BAYAKA PROJECT is managed by the community and is supported by an ethos of cultural self-determination and indigenous rights. Half of the profits made by SONG FROM THE FOREST for Tondowski Films go directly into the Bayaka Project.

Song From The Forest won the 'Best Feature Documentary Award' at IDFA in 2013, 'Best German Documentary Film' in 2015, has been screened at more than a hundred festivals including South by Southwest, BFA, NYC DOC and has been sold in 15 countries.