Slovak film director, script writer, script editor, film theoretician, etnographer, university professor, one of the prominent figures of Slovak culture.
Martin Slivka graduated in documentary filmmaking from FAMU, Prague, and in ethnography and folk culture from the Faculty of Arts at the Charles University in Prague. His years of studies and preparatory work resulted in shooting numerous films with ethnographic topics – films about folk customs, ceremonies, amateur theatre, painting etc. The ideas presented in the films of his teacher Karol Plicka found further expression in his work.
Since 1955, he worked as a dramaturge, screenwriter and documentary film director at the National Film Studios in Bratislava, and later as film director at Short Film Studios. In 1977, he started his career as a lecturer at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts and became the dean of it Film and Television Faculty in 1990.
His ethnographic films are of high artistic and aesthethic value, being a detailed analysis as well as a scientific documentary bringing closer to the audience the cultural and historical phenomena of the society. He himself used to be the author of his films from the script writing up to the directing. He often asked professionals from other fields to work on his films, mostly leading musicians, writers, cameramen.
In view of his lifelong film production (with over 140 films), Martin Slivka is righteously considered a pioneer of a new ethnographic line in Slovak documentary film production, and some of his works are also seen as pioneering works of Slovak experimental cinema.
In 1995, The Man is Leaving (1968) was entered to the UNESCO´s Memory of the World: National Cinematic Heritage.
Martin Šulík paid tribute to life and works of Martin Slivka in his biographical documentary Martin Slivka - The Man Who Planted Trees (2007).
Filmography – selected, short films:
1963: Voda a práca / Water and Labor
1966: Balada v dreve / A Ballad in Wood
1966: Ikony / Icons
1968: Odosobnení / Keeping a Distance
1968: Odchádza človek / The Man Is Leaving
1968: Posledná večera / The Last Supper
1968: Bulharské oplakávacie piesne / Bulgarian Lamentation Songs
1968: Metamorfózy vlákna
1970: Národný umelec profesor Karol Plicka / National Artist Professor Karol Plicka
1970 – 75: filmový cyklus Ľudová kultúra na Slovensku / Folk Culture in Slovakia (film series)
1973: Martin Jonáš
1989 – 1991: Deti vetra (filmový cyklus o Cigánoch v Európe) / The Children of the Wind (film series on Roma population in Europe)