OKA! is a fish-out-of-water tale of a ethnomusicologist from New Jersey who finds himself immersed in the colorful lives of the Bayake pygmies. Based on the memoir by ethnomusicologist Louis Sarno, who has lived with the pygmies for over 20 years, OKA! transports audiences to the vast forest of the Central African Republic into the magical world of the Bayaka and lyrically captures their music, dance, humor and exuberance, as well as the harsh realities they endure. -- (C) DADA Films
as Larry Whitman
as Mayor Bassoun
as Mr. Yi
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Critic Reviews for OKA!
Despite some missteps and awkwardness, Oka! proves compelling and engaging. Currier captures the beauty of the African landscape, and she takes the time to document the Bayaka culture with care and compassion.
A unique and fascinating tale of cultural connection, and the elemental nature of various human curiosities that bind us together.
Slow to start and rambling when it gets going, Oka! nevertheless offers small pleasures, not least a glimpse of life deep in the African rainforest.
The film somehow feels more fanciful than factual, a rift that's aggravated by the juxtaposition of the real actors' performances and the Bayaka pygmies' at times startling real presence.
What's refreshing about Oka! is its aversion to any kind of cliches.
If only for its portrait of a land and a fascinating culture, "Oka!" is worth the journey.
Rather than idealize life in a state of nature, Oka! depicts Bayaka culture as messy and not always admirable, but exuberantly vital.
That the filmmaker at least makes a concerted effort to tweak what in most hands would be an offensively whitewashed dark-continent parable is worth some measure of praise.
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