. Conversations at the Edge (CATE)

Želimir Žilnik: MARBLE ASS

Posted by | Amy Beste | Posted on | October 6, 2023

Friday, October 6, 6:00 p.m.

Želimir Žilnik, MARBLE ASS, 1995. 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 (Thursday, October 5, 6:00 p.m.), mid-career feature MARBLE ASS (1995), and recent award-winner, LOGBOOK SERBISTAN (2015) (Saturday, October 7, 1:00 p.m.).

1995, Želimir Žilnik, FR Yugoslavia, 87 minutes
In Serbian with English subtitles, Format: Beta video transferred to Digital video

Winner of the Teddy for best feature at the 1995 Berlin Film Festival, MARBLE ASS is Žilnik’s breakthrough celebration of queer life in former Yugoslavia, shot during the Balkans War. Staring the late Merlinka as a version of herself, the film follows the lives of Merlin and Sanela—two trans women who turn to sex work as a means of financial security and an act of political resistance against the militant machismo of wartime culture. Their routine is shattered when Johnny, Marlin’s ex-lover, is decommissioned from the army and arrives at her house full of barely repressed rage. Referencing Paul Morrisy’s FLESH (1968) and Billy Wilder’s SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959), MARBLE ASS is a radically exhilarating mix of political allegory, screwball humor, empathy, and Belgrade’s ’90s underground.

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.

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

ŽELIMIR ŽILNIK: SHORT FILMS (Thursday, October 5, 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.