Slovakia’s slow but steady path to democracy and economic independence is explored with candor and compassion in “Hey, You Slovaks.” Illuminating item is suitable primarily for broadcast, human rights-oriented fest berths and public interest groups.
Pic opens with archival montage illustrating the past 70 years of Slovak history, as workers in 1932 declare, with irony typical to the region, “No work. No money. No bread. Good old times.” Rural voters argue the relative merits of political candidates during a 2001 May Day get-together, while Americans of Slovak heritage explore a village museum and speak of their ancestors’ lives in the mines and steel factories of Pennsylvania. Elderly workers at a now-deserted glassworks recount with touching resignation the reasons for the plant’s closing, affirming “Slovaks can bear a lot; they just get their backs ready.” Helmer Robert Kirchhoff has made pics on voting and Roma issues for the Bratislava-based Institute for Public Affairs, bringing to “Hey, You Slovaks” the same measured tone of dignity shot through with sadness and pride. Tech credits are skillful. Title comes from line in a folk song sung by a visiting American over the closing credits.