. Conversations at the Edge (CATE)

Želimir Žilnik: Short Films

Posted by | Amy Beste | Posted on | October 5, 2023

Thursday, October 5, 6:00 p.m.

Želimir Žilnik, INVENTORY, 1975. Courtesy of the artist.

For more than 50 years, renowned Serbian director Želimir Žilnik has produced a body of trailblazing and politically committed films. A key member of Yugoslavia’s rebellious Black Wave film movement of the 1960s and a pioneer of docufiction, Žilnik’s perspective was shaped by atrocity at the hands of Nazis, Yugoslavia’s turbulent history and dissolution, and periods of exile. Over the years, he has used his camera to explore the experiences of outsiders of all kinds, depicting complicated social and political realities from a distinctly human perspective.

Join us for three programs that cover the range of his career, including his essential early SHORT FILMS, mid-career feature MARBLE ASS (1995) (Friday, October 6, 6:00 p.m.), and recent award-winner, LOGBOOK SERBISTAN (2015) (Saturday, October 7, 1:00 p.m.) Žilnik will be in attendance at the Friday and Saturday screenings.

This program brings together four of Žilnik’s most powerful and innovative short films. Shot in Yugoslavia and West Germany, each captures the experiences of people living on the outskirts of society through reenactment, improvisation, repetition, and dark humor.

1971–1977, Želimir Žilnik, Yugoslavia/West Germany, 71 minutes
Multiple languages with English subtitles, Format: Digital Video

Presented in partnership with The Center for Eastern European and Russian/Eurasian Studies at the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) School of Literatures, Cultural Studies, and Linguistics and UIC’s School of Art and Art History.


1971, Yugoslavia, 14 minutes
In Serbian with English subtitles
BLACK FILM is an early example of Žilnik’s political engagement, expressed through his decision to provide shelter to a group of unhoused men in his family’s small apartment. While his guests enjoy themselves, the filmmaker presses social workers, government officials, police, and even ordinary citizens for a more permanent solution. When his camera captures their indifference, his film becomes an indictment against the powers that be.

1973, Yugoslavia, 18 minutes
In Serbian with English subtitles
Residents of Jazak, a small village in eastern Yugoslavia, reenact the ways they resisted Nazi forces during WWII—hiding guns, cutting telegraph wires, sabotaging food, and caring for Partisan soldiers. Žilnik’s camera captures stories of atrocity and grief alongside those of solidarity and mutual aid.

1975, West Germany, 9 minutes
In multiple languages with English subtitles
A short structural documentary experiment that takes stock of West Germany’s “guest workers”—Yugoslavs, Italians, Turks, and Greeks—living in an old building in the center of Munich.

1977, Yugoslavia, 30 minutes
Serbian with English subtitles
Žilnik takes his camera to Šabac Fair, one of the largest flea markets and festivals in the Balkans, to meet with the people who run it. Cutting between tradespeople, performers, musicians, and fair employees, Žilnik highlights its chaotic and cooperative community.

About the artist

Želimir Žilnik is an artist-filmmaker from Novi Sad, Serbia. He has made more than 50 feature and short films which have been exhibited internationally. Žilnik has been the subject of major career film retrospectives at Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2019; Cinemateca Argentina, 2018; Mar del Plata International Film Festival, 2017; Anthology Film Archive, New York, and Harvard Film Archive, 2017; Ankara International Film Festival, 2016; Doclisboa, 2015; Arsenal, Berlin, 2015; CINUSP, São Paulo, 2014; Thessaloniki International Film Festival, 2014; and more. His work has also been featured at Documenta, Kassel; Venice Biennale; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien; Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art; Museo Universitario Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Renaissance Society, Chicago; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg’ Lentos Art Museum, Linz; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; Deutsches Historisches Museum and Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome; among others.

Related Events

MARBLE ASS (Friday, October 6, 6:00 p.m.)
LOGBOOK SERBISTAN (Saturday, October 7, 1:00 p.m.)


This event will have real-time captions (CART). For other accessibility requests, please visit saic.edu/access or contact cate@saic.edu.