The Slovenia Times

Houston, we have Food for Thought



The "Houston, we have a problem" trailer promotes a film which its Slovene creators - Academy Award-nominated director Žiga Virc and his uncle Boštjan Virc - are terming a "docudrama". According to the video, the movie will reveal one of the biggest secrets of the Cold War: that Yugoslavia had a space programme and that Tito sold it to the USA in 1961, the same year US President John Kennedy announced "we choose to go to the moon". Yugoslavia was allegedly the third player in the space race, making rapid progress thanks to the secret diaries of space travel pioneer Herman Potočnik Noordung, a pioneer of space travel. The technical solutions resulted in the establishment of the Yugoslavian space programme which was discovered by the CIA in 1960. After that, Yugoslavia started to flourish, supposedly due to the generous US financial support.

A hoax or something more?

It's an amazing story, which has received enormous attention from as far away as Africa, Japan and Australia. But how much of it is really true?
"We can say that 80-90 percent of it is based on facts which can be tracked down in archives and double checked," Žiga Virc claimed in an interview for Studio City TV programme. "The trailer is a hypothesis on the Yugoslavian space programme and due to numerous contacts and feedbacks we have received after we put in online, the percentage of the real stuff is getting ever higher," he added.
The video triggered various responses, from deep Yugo-nostalgia to an interview on one of the Croatian TV stations in which a constructor of Apollo programme modules seemed to partially back the film's version of events. Mike Vucelić confirmed that he had met with Tito met and that the leader was interested in establishing a Yugoslavian space programme. The expert rejected him, but it's stories like this which have ignited the imaginations of the two Vircs: "Many Yugoslavians worked in NASA and Tito was even given a stone from the moon by the Americans," Boštjan Virc says.

Out in 2013

Experts are emphasising that the historical "facts" in the trailer have been interpreted in a very free way. Yes, Potočnik's work did influence the American space programme. But his diaries and documents do not and did not exist - the only airing of his theories was in the published book "The Problem of Space Travel". Also there is no evidence of any space collaboration in the bestselling Tito biography "Tito and Comrades".
The Vircs assert that they put the video was online just to see the audience's reaction: "We did not plan to receive such an enormous feedback. The themes are hot indeed, but during the making of the trailer we did not plan it to become so successful. We are just doing what we are interested in and what we believe in, not following any matrixes of what might work with the public."
Interestingly, one very positive reaction was from Houston. The US space team commented on the trailer via Radio Free Europe: "They think it is really good," says Boštjan Virc.
The team already has pre-production funds and pitching arrangements. The film is due to be released next spring. Judging from the reaction to the trailer, it's likely to cause a big stir.


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