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Phil Agland / United Kingdom / 1987 / 104 min

11 January 2017 6:30PM
UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PY London
The screening will be introduced by Dr. Jerome Lewis, UCL.

This film, made for Channel 4 Television, is about the Baka Pygmies and their life in the tropical rain-forest in Cameroon. It is divided into four parts, The Journey, Home, The Scandal and The Arrival and sets out to present the Baka through the strong personalities of three central characters: Likano, a man in his forties, Deni, his young wife, and Ali, their son. Through them we experience what it is to experience life as Baka-from the internal politics of the village to the richness of the rain-forest. The film, made by a film-maker experienced in making wildlife films, looks at the plant and animal life of the forest as well as many aspects of Baka life and culture: the gathering of edible insects and fruits, hunting and fishing and the scaling of tall forest trees for honey; and music, folk tales and healing dances. All of this is worked into a story line which is followed from its first intrigue to its climax with the arrival of the Forest Spirit in a major ritual and the birth of Deni’s third child.

The strength of the film lies in its photography and in the empathy created by its narrative style. Baka focuses on character development in a way that is usually reserved for fiction films. The film crew, who are not anthropologists, prepared for the filming in a classic anthropological manner, spending two years with the Baka and using the first six months to learn about the culture and language before they began to film. This intensity of involvement with the community is what in part made it possible to film character development.

Organised by Film Festival Ambassadors Leah Eades and Irene Carter.


Part of the Film Festival Ambassador series. Thanks to our dedicated RAI Film Festival Ambassadors, a selection of films from the RAI Film Festival Archive will be screening in universities and community venues across the UK between November 2016 and March 2017.