Forest For The Trees

An epic, poetic film about tree planting that digs us inside the planters’ lives and dreams

With an live, in person performance by spokenword/singwongwriter and former tree-planter, Scott Wicken.

This visually and artistically unique documentary explores the physical and emotional aspects of a community of west coast tree planters. Deftly weaving together still photos and film footage, Rita Leistner, an award-winning photographer, photojournalist, filmmaker and erstwhile tree planter, depicts the contradictions in the experiences of the tree planters—the hardship and the healing; the solitude and the joy of belonging—creating an eloquent cinematic metaphor for the human condition. 

As the film opens, a birds-eye view of a logging truck loaded with newly-felled trees meaningfully shifts to a panoramic shot of desolate clear-cut terrain. Here a lone figure, weighed down on all sides with heavy bags of seedlings, plunges a shovel into the ground, bends to nestle the tree into the hole, gently cove­ring it up before moving on to the next. This is done thousands of times a day by tree planters who endure inclement weather, voracious insects, injuries, hunger and crushing fatigue. Alone with their thoughts, the planters describe for the camera how the work has helped them overcome a myriad of personal issues ranging from addiction and mental illness to self-doubt, heartbreak and grief.

Finding common cause, self-knowledge and meaning in their formidable task, the tree planters restore themselves and each other in the process of restoring the environment.


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