Document / UK premiere

Goodbye, How Are You? (Dovidjenja, Kako Ste?)

  • Boris Mitic /
  • Serbia /
  • 2009 /
  • 61 mins

Documentary / Serbian

Jokes as a weapon of resistance: how satire sustains a beleaguered culture.

Screening with zasto ne Govorim Srpski (na Srpskom)
Phil Collins | 2008 | 35 Min

Piercingly poignant, yet tinged with an acid sense of humour, Goodbye, How Are You? combines a portrait of a splintered society with a voiceover drawn from cynical Serbian adages addressing political corruption and the ravages of war. The film's visual imagery – comprising evocative landscape shots, witty juxtapositions and scraps of news footage – forms an inclusive, thoughtful portrait of an environment altered by conflict. Exquisite homes stand empty, relics of antebellum affluence. Police beat back a wave of demonstrators, in an image so massed with moving bodies that it resembles a close-up of a microscope slide. A tiny girl walks casually between two soldiers, bearing a bag of bread: nothing strange to her about big guns cropping up on the grocery route. The voiceover, meanwhile, deploys the Serbian convention of dry aphorisms to pass indirect comment upon the images. "They are applying a sticks and carrots policy with us," notes the unseen narrator. "First they beat us with sticks, then with carrots." It's a sad, clever new take on the impact of war upon culture, at once terribly sorrowful and slenderly optimistic. The people might be beaten down, but resistance sustains through language: not rabble-rousing slogans, but self-deprecating asides acknowledging both the abuse of power and passivity of an intellectual elite taking refuge in irony. Our witty tour guide – a Balkan cousin to the nameless protagonist of Patrick Keiller's classic essay films London (1994) and Robinson in Space (1997) – declares himself nostalgic for the simpler days when one could settle a grievance with a duel; but with old-fashioned matters like honour and dignity besmirched by protracted bloodshed, he opts instead to fight his battles on the level of language. Whether waxing subversive or simply misanthropic, his is an important voice: it speaks up for the freedom conferred by a healthy scepticism and a resilient sense of humour.

Screening with:

zasto ne govorim srpski (na srpskom)

  • Phil Collins /
  • UK, Kosovo /
  • 35 mins

The Glasgow-based, Turner Prize-nominated visual artist Phil Collins explores language and history via interviews with survivors of the Kosovo war, whose manner of expression and use of words serve as a metaphor for the long-term effects of conflict upon identity and culture.

Director: Phil Collins
Producer: Graham Clayton-Chance
Exec Producers: Phil Collins, Sinisa Mitrovic
Editors: Mike Curd, David Mowbray
DoP: Mumin Jashari
Sound Production: Nick Powell
Music: Nick Powell

2009 Archive

Image from Goodbye, How Are You?

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  • #1 Anzalone Lorenzo / Thursday 25 June, 2009 / 16:04 GMT

    This film is amazing. His separating it into 24 chapters, the use of aphorisms to explain more deeply his feelings: to both intellectualize and make prosaic the images which are absurd and sometimes awful, the use of whimsy in the music for at the end of the day what can we do in the face of such a war except shrug for our participation and laugh at it's ridiculousness. I appreciate very much how long it must have taken to collect all these hours of film, and to wonder if it would come to fruition in the end. This film is not just the exploration of one mans feelings about war and his country, it is the deep flowering of knowledge, that it seems as though a river of ignorance and absurdity surround us, and that the reaction, his reaction, is to find the human spirit is quite savage and funny in the same turn. Lovely, a vision, an essay on memories.

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