News Releases

Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival to Cosponsor Screening of Lavinia Currier's 'OKA!'

 ITHACA, NY — Ithaca College’s Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF), the Ithaca Motion Picture Project and Cinemapolis/7th Art Corporation will sponsor a limited engagement screening of “OKA!”—director Lavinia Currier’s documentary on the Bayaka people of central Africa. Taking place at Cinemapolis on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 4:30 p.m., the screening will be followed by a Q&A with Currier, which will be facilitated by Stuart McDougal, a visiting scholar at Cornell University. General admission is $9.50; tickets for seniors (64 and older), students and children 12 and under are $6.50.

This screening marks the kickoff to the 15th anniversary of FLEFF. FLEFF 2012 will take place March 25 to April 1 on the Ithaca College campus and Cinemapolis. The theme will be “Microtopias.”

“OKA! has received a seemingly endless stream of accolades,” said Patricia Zimmermann, who, with fellow Ithaca College faculty member Tom Shevory, codirects FLEFF. “We’re thrilled to have Lavinia Currier in Ithaca for the central New York premiere of this mesmerizing movie.”

“OKA!” recounts the story of an ethnomusicologist from New Jersey who finds himself immersed in the lives of the Bayaka people of central Africa. Based upon the memoir of Louis Sarno, who lived with the Bayaka for more than 20 years, it was filmed on location in the vast forests of the Central African Republic.

“Currier’s film enters the magical world of Bayaka, featuring their lyrical music and dance, while highlighting the exuberance, humor and sophistication of their culture,” Shevory said. “Yet the work does not shy from the harsh realities that the Bayaka endure in the face of complex and sometimes threatening political, cultural and ecological changes.”

“My purpose was to make a film which celebrated a people who are perfectly adapted to their natural environment, and who, despite the extreme remoteness and dangers of their home in Central Africa, always find opportunities to express their humor, joyfulness and musical genius,” Currier said. “In this sense, the film functions as an antidote to so-called ‘modern’ and ‘western’ perspectives on Africa, depicted in novels such as Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.”

“Christian Science Monitor” film critic, Peter Rainer, has described the film as “fascinating.” Aysegul Sert of “Venice Magazine” has labeled “OKA!” a “remarkable” film and a “must see.” “Village Voice” critic Aaron Hillis celebrated the film as “a tapestry of cultural nuances, atmosphere and song.”

For more info, contact Tom Shevory at

Launched in 1997 as an outreach project from Cornell University’s Center for the Environment at Cornell University, the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival was moved permanently to Ithaca College in 2005. It is housed in the Office of the Provost as a program to link intellectual inquiry and debate to larger global issues.