As a member of the 2010 Silverdocs Screening Committee, I previewed several films this year whose oddball characters and comic scenarios had me laughing out loud. Most of the time, the onset of laughter was immediate. But in GOODBYE, HOW ARE YOU? (aka “Aphocalypse Now”), an inventive collage of absurd images and deadpan narration, the effect was more one of delayed laughter. Serbian director Boris Mitic has crafted a different kind of comic documentary, one which he calls “satirical verite,” in which jests from a fictional narrator are wielded adroitly as weapons of resistance against corruption, oppression and war.
Equal parts Samuel Beckett and Chris Marker, “Goodbye, How Are You?” draws inspiration from the satirical aphorism, a literary device that gained popularity in post-World War II Eastern Europe and whose best known practitoners in the former Yugoslavia are the members of the Belgrade Aphoristic Circle. These aphorisms are darkly sardonic one- or two-liners with a subversive twist. They often offer up a paradox or Hobson’s Choice. And they’re funny.
To whet your appetite for Mitic’s challenging, but rewarding, film, here’s a small selection of the Aphoristic Circle’s witticisms (some included in the film, some not):
Our country is in transition…It is disappearing from the map.
Nothing should slow us down…that’s why we have not opened our parachutes.
The war criminal has double-parked…Such a thing cannot go unpunished in this country.
The enemy surprised us again…We expected that he would attack first!
Judging by your voice, I would say that you are not from around here…Here nobody would dare to utter a single word.
They are applying a sticks and carrots policy…First they beat us with sticks, then with carrots.
Click here to watch the trailer, buy your tickets (and read a Q&A with the filmmaker by clicking on “extras”).
— Edward Engel