Episode III, also known as 'Enjoy Poverty', is the 90 minute film registration of Renzo Martens' activities in the Congo. In an epic journey, the film establishes that images of poverty are the Congo’s most lucrative export, generating more revenue than traditional exports like gold, diamonds, or cocoa. However, just as with these traditional exports, those that provide the raw material: the poor being filmed, hardly benefit from it at all.
Amidst ethnic war and relentless economic exploitation, Martens sets up an emancipation program that aims to teach the poor how to benefit from their biggest resource: poverty. Thus, Congolese photographers are encouraged to move on from development-hindering activities, such as photographing weddings and parties, and to start taking images of war and disaster. With a neon sign, packed in metal crates and carried through the jungle by Martens' porters, the local population is encouraged to capitalize on what the world has given them as their share. It states 'Enjoy Poverty.' Hapless plantation workers question it, accept it, dance around it, yet in the end, the whole project seems bound to fail.
The piece is the third in a series of films that, by enacting their own parameters, try to make visible their own complicity in a world obscured by depictions of it. The first of this series was 'Episode I' set in Chechnya.
Episode III was first shown at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. The trunks that were carried throughout the jungle, now contained the master-tape of these activities, some left over neon lights, a photograph made in collaboration with the Association des Photographes de Kanyabayonga, and a certificate. The film was screened a few times daily.
On the very same day, the piece served as the opening night film the Amsterdam International Documentary Festival's 2008 edition. Ever since, viewing copies have been made available for documentary film festivals and for television screenings, allowing the piece to relate fully to the modes of representation it reproduces.
Written, Directed, Filmed by Renzo Martens
Editor: Jan De Coster
Script Doctor and Artistic Advisor: Eric Vanderborght
On-line facilities: Condor
Sound Editor: Raf Enckels
Sound Mixing: Federik van de Moortel
Additional Cameras: Jean-Francois Mombia, Mumbere Mughenye Rwa
Production Assistants: Raymond Ambena, Jimmy Botombela, Eric ‘Cowboy’ Kapita, Raphael Katabarwa, Jean-Francois Mombia, Marrion P’udongo
Line Producer/Post-production Manager: Peter Krüger / Inti Films
Post-production Assistants: Philippe Schrooten, Xenia Vanderlinden
Editing Consultants: Peter Krüger, Nico Leunen.
Editing Assistants: Nathalie Cools, Jozef Devillé, Stephanie Perrin
Neon sign construction: Belgium Neon
Colour Grading: Nicolas Billy
On-line facilities: Condor
Mixing studio: The Image & Sound Factory
Subtitling: The Subtitling Company
Insurance: Circles Group/BCOH N.V. Aon
Translations: Alice Evermore, Wietse Marievoet, Adam Tshony, Cecile Van Wesemael, Jessica Woodworth
Graphic Design: Casier/Fieuws
Renzo Martens for Renzo Martens Menselijke Activiteiten
Peter Krüger for Inti Films
Jos de Putter for VPRO
Wim van Rompaey for Lichtpunt Televisie
The Netherlands Film Fund
The Flanders Audiovisual Fund
Nationale Commissie voor Internationale Betrekkingen en Duurzame Ontwikkeling
The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture
Prins Bernard Cultuur Fonds