Episode III: Enjoy Poverty

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Episode III: Enjoy Poverty
Directed by Renzo Martens
Produced by Inti Films Renzo Martens Menselijke Activiteiten
Screenplay by Renzo Martens
Cinematography Renzo Martens
Edited by Jan de Coster
Release date
Running time
90 minutes
Country Netherlands

Episode III : Enjoy Poverty (2008) is a film by the Dutch artist Renzo Martens.


The film is a sequel to Martens' Episode I – Enjoy Poverty (in which he filmed refugees from Chechnya).[1] Episode III – Enjoy Poverty premiered as the opening film of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in 2008. Subsequently, the film was screened at numerous international film festivals and broadcast on thirteen different television channels. Renzo Martens won the Flemish Culture Prize in 2010 and was nominated for the Artes Mundi Prize in 2014.


For two years, Renzo Martens traveled with his camera through the poorest and most violent areas of the Congolese interior. In these regions, where poverty is the highest export product, Martens start an emancipation program in which he encourages local communities to monetize their poverty. The local photographers, who are showing proudly their pictures of marriages and births, are encouraged to face their lenses on the most cruel and shocking situations. Renzo Martens explains carefully how they should shoot the jutting ribs of a malnourished child to make the picture attractive to sell to Western newspapers. When hope is flickering in the eyes of the Congolese photographers, it all comes down when they notice they will never obtain a press card to enter closed war zones. In this respect, Martens can only acknowledge the hopeless situation and organizes a party in the jungle to indulge their poverty.

Critical reflection[edit]

The film is a study of the political claims of contemporary Western art, which are often praised but in many cases at the expense of another exploitation. Martens criticizes this aspect of contemporary art by repeating it. Without taking a close defined position against this injustice and exploitation, the film unfolds itself as the point of critique as such. That is what makes the film autoreferential.[citation needed]

Frieze magazine criticised the film for perpetuating the very thing it was protesting against - the pleasure of watching people in dire circumstances - and also for stereotyping the Congolese plantation workers.[1]

Awards and nominations[edit]


  • Cultural fund for documentary film, Stipend, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Netherlands


  • Price of the Dutch Film Fund, Netherlands


Screenings (selection)[edit]

Art venues[edit]


  • Jakarta Biennale, Jakarta,Indonesia


  • Sydney Biennale, Sydney, Australia
  • ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • The BOX, Los Angeles, USA


  • Moscow Biennal, Moscow, Russia
  • Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA
  • Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Germany
  • Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen, Denmark


  • Kenderdine Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Canada
  • Sligo, Ireland


  • Göteborgs Konsthall, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Kunsthalle Charlottenburg, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Foam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Le bal, Paris, France
  • Hart House, Toronto, Canada
  • Nomas Foundation, Rome, Italy



  • Wilkinson Gallery, London, UK
  • Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, Netherlands
  • De Hallen, Haarlem, Netherlands
  • Espace d' Art Contemporain La Tollerie, Clermond Ferrand, France
  • Abington Art Center, (curated by Sue Spaid), Philadelphia, USA
  • Pavilion, Bucharest, Hungary


  • Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Manifesta 7, Rovereto, Italy
  • Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo, Brasil
  • Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany
  • De Appel, Amsterdam, Netherlands


  • CPH:Dox, Copenhagen
  • Anasy Festival, Abu Dhabi
  • Filmfestival, Guadalajara
  • Leeds Filmfestival, Leeds
  • Atlantic Mirror, Rio de Janeiro
  • One World Filmfestival, Bukarest
  • Prirzen Docufest, Kosovo
  • Salem Filmfestival, Massachusetts, USA
  • Tarifa African filmfestival
  • Vermont Filmfestival
  • Jersey Amnesty Film Festival
  • Doc Lounge Sweden Docpoint, Sweden
  • Helsinki International Film Festival, Finland
  • Raccontare el Vero, Parma
  • Aarhus Filmfestival
  • African Filmfestival, Milan
  • Bergen Filmfestival
  • Nederlands Filmfestival, Utrecht
  • Jerusalem Filmfestival, Jerusalem
  • Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Estonia
  • New Zealand Film Festival, New Zealand
  • Planet Doc review, Poland
  • Docville festival, Belgium
  • Alba International Film Festival
  • Dockenama, Maputo
  • MiradasDoc, Tenerife
  • Rencontres Internationales du Film Documentaire, Canada
  • Planet Doc review, Warzawa
  • DocHouse, London
  • SilverDocs, Washington DC
  • HotDocs, Toronto
  • Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, Thessaloniki
  • IDFA, Amsterdam

Television channels[edit]

  • VPRO, Netherlands
  • VRT, Belgium
  • Al Jazeera, Qatar
  • SVT, Sweden
  • YLE, Finland
  • NRK TV, Norway
  • ORF, Austria
  • DBS Satellite Israel
  • TV2, Africa


  1. ^ a b Dan Fox (April 2009). "Renzo Martens". Frieze. Retrieved 21 February 2015.