ABC No Rio, 156 Rivington St., Manhattan, NYC 15 October

We hosted Difference Screen here in New York on October 15 at ABC No Rio, a scrappy anarchist art space on Manhattan’s lower east side. This coincided with the arrival of friends from the Netherlands who were responsible for bringing me to Bosnia last February, where I first encountered Difference Screen. All in all, it was a happy, drunken event, rife with a sense of reunion and possibility.

The program was a showing of five short films: three from the former Yugoslavia, one from Bulgaria, and one from Georgia. By the special request of my partner Vandana Jain (who largely organized the No Rio screening), Gordana Andjelic-Galic’s wonderful film ‘Mantra’ was shown, depicting the artist walking down a newly paved street, while an overwhelming number of flags are thrown, one by one at her from offscreen. These are the flags of the many powers that have historically held sway in Bosnia Herzegovina. The artist repeatedly drops them, and is nearly brought down by the weight. It was a real delight to see this work again, all the more so because I met the artist and travelled with her last February.

By bringing together a mix of society and creative production, screenings like Difference Screen are immensely important. A night of short films is a one of my favorite ways to experience culture. It’s like going to the movies, but on an individual, human scale. The multi-film program, made possible by the shortness of the films shown, allows several creative minds to express their vision in one evening. They are events celebrating smallness and intimacy. Best when the film-makers are present, the line between passive audience and active participant can disappear.

What makes Difference Screen so uniquely interesting is it’s nomadic global nature. From town to town, country to country, it rolls snowball-like through its travels, accumulating participants from each new location in a hopefully unending effort to bring together beautiful short films, and the artists who make them.

Travel, community, creativity- a trinity of sorts that, for me at least, defines a life well lived.

Mike Estabrook

ABC steps : Mike, Bruce, Stephen, Mona, Glen, Jessy, Marlies, Manny

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