“illegal_cinema”. Marta Popivoda


illegal_cinema started in 2007 in Belgrade, as an initiative of the Walking Theory platform. During 2008 and 2009 it had its special editions in Zagreb and Istanbul, and from 2010 TkH has initiated illegal_cinema in Paris, which is now organised in Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers as their regular program.

It is conceived as an open (self-)educational project of exchange and contextualization of the auteur, documentary, activist, queer, anarchist, censored and other marginalized and in a local context hardly accessible films. The project is open to everyone interested to propose films, with obligation to speak about them, to open up discussion, or to invite guests. With this procedure we try to erase the boundaries between the editor (curator) and the audience, to perform a long-term process of self-education and to create a critical cultural community. So, in this project, “illegal” means inciting another knowledge production and discourse among non-film specialists around more experimental, critical and minoritarian film production. illegal_cinema is an open source project which explores different procedures and formats of watching and discussing films.

W.R. Mysteries of the Organism

(Yugoslavia / West Germany, 1971)

Directed by: Dusan Makavejev
Duration: 84 min
Presentation: Marta Popivoda

Dusan Makavejev is a Yugoslav filmmaker, famous for his provocative and many times censored films in the late 1960s and early 1970s. One of his most important movies is the 1971 political satire W.R. Mysteries of the Organism. This film was banned in Yugoslavia for 16 years due to its sexual-political content and resulted in Makavejev’s exile from the country, which ended in 1988.

Makavejev is mostly influenced by Sergei Eisenstein’s montage of attraction and the work of Jean-Luc Godard. In this film he juxtaposes documentary footage about Wilhelm Reich (W.R.) shot in USA, and a narrative story about a Yugoslav women (Milena, admirer of Reich) who seduces a Russian artist. Many interpretations of the film suggested that Milena is a metaphor for the Yugoslavian working class’s struggle for liberation against the influence of the Russian communist State, and in the film she is killed in a sexual encounter with a Russian artist Vladimir Illych, named after Vladimir Illych Lenin.

WR—Mysteries of the Organism deals with the sexuality of politics and the politics of sexuality. A radical condemnation of both the sterility of Stalinism and the superficial commercialism of Western capitalism, WR is certainly a document of its time—of Yugoslavia attempting to follow its “third way” while America fights in Vietnam and Moscow invades Czechoslovakia.

The film won the Luis Buñuel Award at Cannes film festival in 1971.

Marta Popivoda (Belgrade, 1982) is a film and video maker, but also a cultural worker from Belgrade. She is part of the TkH collective of theorists and artists (TkH=Walking Theory), which deals with the problematics of the performance paradigm in art, culture and theory. TkH is mostly active on the independent art scenes in Belgrade and Paris.

In her solo projects she explores cinema as a medium and format of contemporary art and as a tool of knowledge production. Her most widely known work is illegal_cinema (2007-…), which has been presented in France, Turkey, Spain, Croatia and Serbia. Her stance is of an Eastern European artist who prefers using already existing materials from the history of film and media in (post)producing her own work. Her work has been presented in exhibitions of photography, installation art and video. She also collaborates in theatre performances and contemporary opera as video artist. Occasionally, she publishes theoretical texts and reviews.