Episode 3 - 'Enjoy Poverty'

    • Renzo Martens
    • Netherlands, The
    • 2009
    • 90 min
    • 25 years Highlights of the Lowlands
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    For two years, Dutch artist Renzo Martens traveled around Congo, from the capital of Kinshasa to deep into the interior. Employing a casual film style, camera in hand, he makes his way around the poverty-fighting industry in the post-civil war country, regularly appearing on screen himself. He films UN peacekeepers in their SUVs providing security for an international company so it can mine gold; corpses of gold-digging rebels surrounded by Western photographers; white relief workers happily taking pictures of the recipients of their emergency aid, with their logo on every canvas tent they hand out; a large landowner at a photo exhibition looking at pictures of his day laborers, who don't even earn enough to feed their children. It all amounts to one conclusion: poverty is there to stay, and "fighting it" is an industry from which the poor benefit very little. Martens then launches a self-styled emancipation program: he teaches the Congolese poor that "images of poverty" are their country's most lucrative natural resource. Under Martens's guidance, local photographers start photographing malnourished children instead of wedding parties. He mounts a neon sign in the middle of the forest that reads "Enjoy Poverty," at which point children start dancing. But in the end, adversity won't be held at bay for long.


    • 90 min
    • color
    • video
    Renzo Martens
    Renzo Martens for Renzo Martens Menselijke Activiteiten, Peter Krüger for Inti Films
    Renzo Martens
    Jan de Coster
    Renzo Martens
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    IDFA history

    25 years Highlights of the Lowlands
    World Premiere
    IDFA Competition for First Appearance

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    IDFA history