Review: ‘Martin Slivka: ‘The Man Who Planted Trees’’

"The Man Who Planted Trees" makes solid case for late helmer's vital contribution to ethnographic study.

A straight-ahead portrait of a cherished Slovak documaker, “Martin Slivka: ‘The Man Who Planted Trees'” makes a solid case for the late helmer’s vital contribution to ethnographic study; call him a regional Harry Smith, if the visionary Anthology of American Folk Music archivist had toted a camera. Pic will play on platforms where such portraiture is appreciated, fueled in part by rep of profiler Martin Sulik, whose non-docu work includes “The Garden” and “The City of the Sun.”

Heavily influenced by the Euro avant-garde between the wars and later cinema verite movement, Slivka himself became known for visual records of folklore and musical traditions among rural Slovaks and Poles. His 150 pics stretch from his influential 1963 debut “Water and Work” to his troubled 1991 Roma expose “The Children of the Wind” and beyond. Thirty-plus interviewees paint a bittersweet portrait of a sometimes remote family man passionately committed to his craft. Tech package is generously laced with fine-quality clips from Slivka’s vibrant work. Title comes from an unrelated tome about a Johnny Appleseed type, and refers to Slivka’s sturdy legacy.

Martin Slivka: 'The Man Who Planted Trees'

Slovakia

Production

A Trigon production, in association with Slovak TV, Slovensky Filmovy Ustav. Produced by Ivan Janovsky, Peter Dubecky, Silvia Demjanova. Executive producer, Patrik Pass. Directed by Martin Sulik. Written by Ingrid Mayerova, Rudolf Urc, Sulik.

Crew

Camera (color, Beta SP), Richard Krivda; editor, Alena Spustova; music, Mucha Brothers, Stanislav Paluch; production designers, Michal Gubala, Stefan Boda; sound, Peter Mojzis. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (noncompeting), July 4, 2007. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Olga Slivkova, Milos Kubik, Jan Slivka, Ondrej Slivka, Hanka Mrkvicova.
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