Houston, We Have a Problem is a fake documentary based on the premise that when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in outer space, the government of President John F. Kennedy went into panic mode, fearing that it was falling too far behind the Soviet Union’s space program. Upon learning that Yugoslavia had secretly built its own space program, the U.S. bought the entire program, shipped all of its elements to Florida and then discovered that it was useless. This led the Americans to ask for their money back. None of this is true, but now that we’re living in an age when even the president of the United States believes in outlandishly fake “alternative facts”, who cares?
Using real intellectuals giving deadpan explanations and combining these faux interviews with actual, cleverly edited archival footage, the first half of Houston, We Have a Problem can almost be believed. But the second half becomes so absurd that it should be obvious that we are watching a satire. Or so I thought.
I conducted the question and answer session with director Žiga Virc after one showing. I thought that he and I had made it crystal clear that the story was completely fictional, yet there was an awkward moment when one audience member asked a question about how Virc mixed his satire with the truth about the “real” Yugoslav space program. Maybe she also believed that three million illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton.