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Review: And If I Don’t Behave Then What

Reviewed by Amanda L. Andrei

Open Fist Theatre Company

Through March 4

And If I Don’t Behave Then What

L.A. premiere of the new play by Iva Brdar

Ovaries on the concrete. Chin and cheek dimples with the sound of a drill. Being polite, kind, and well-behaved in the face of nameless, insidious forces. 

The play consists of various vignettes, starting from Age 0 and culminating when “Woman” is in her 70s. Woman consists of Cynthia Ettinger, reading pages of printed paper or from her phone as she recounts memorable events of a life. However, Woman also consists of Carmella Jenkins, who could be interpreted as a version of a younger self, or another part of the subconscious, and at times Debba Rofheart, the most prominent candidate for the Woman’s mother, voicing the mother’s instructions to her daughter (such as the darkly humorous line, “Don’t sit on concrete, your ovaries will get cold”). And Woman could also consist of Howard Leder, playing the majority of the men’s roles, where the masculine in this world is coldly distant, silent in its brutality, or in a deadpan delivery drawing amusement from the audience, hilarious in its unawareness in giving instructions on how to parallel park. 

Cynthia Ettinger
Photo by frank ishman

All these scenes seem to add up to a life that, while portrayed intimately in its details, still feels alienated in the world and to the audience. Rofheart’s “character” (if you can label that part of the text as such) never moves from the seat at the darkened desk, casting a metaphorical shadow of an ever-present yet never-interacted-with mother. And Ettinger has a lovely, soothing voice—when glancing away from the pages, she also serves us lively facial expressions and reactions. 

Yet I found myself craving more from the text and questioning the choice to leave the Woman character seemingly on book. Is the Woman a writer or otherwise an intellectual? Is the story so burdensome that it needs an additional interface of pages to separate us from the pain at the heart of these vignettes? From a literary standpoint, these words and images are beautiful, but seeing it performed, I found myself living in my head, the words washing over me, wondering about who the person was behind the text.

And that may be part of the intended effect. I also found myself yearning for more grounding from the playwright’s culture, simultaneously questioning if this world was meant to be a more anonymous post-communist country. The text referenced a former communist country and teaching Marxism, but that could be so much of not only Eastern Europe, but Asia or Latin America as well. I wondered if, from a translation standpoint, there were more words from the original language that could culturally ground the text, or if from a design point, more references to the original culture of the text and its author could be included in the musical transitions or projections—not to exotify, but more to ground an audience member. 

Or perhaps that is part of the whole point, that even if the playwright is identified as Serbian, the region has dealt with such a variety of labels, conflict, and grief that perhaps the priority of this performance is not culture, but rather womanhood, the multiplicity of a woman’s life, and the entanglement between mother, daughter, and other knotted ancestral ties and norms packaged up as folk culture to keep us safe. Furthermore, Director Beth F. Milles notes in the program that the piece is written as a “long tone poem” with no punctuation, and so the possibilities for this text are immense. And perhaps this immense tension is what ultimately underlies the piece—that while there are so many possibilities in life, it might still end in a strangely alluring yet alienating mystery. 

Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los AngelesCA 90039. Parking is free is in the ATX (Atwater Crossing) parking lot one block south of the theater.

To purchase tickets and for more information call (323882-6912 or go to www.openfist.org.

News Release

Reviewer Amanda L. Andrei is a Filipina Romanian American playwright, literary translator, and teaching artist residing in Los Angeles by way of Virginia/Washington DC. She writes epic, irreverent plays that center the concealed, wounded places of history and societies from the perspectives of diasporic Filipina women, and she translates from Romanian and Filipino to English. For more information on her work and upcoming events, visit: www.AmandaLAndrei.com


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DISCREET POETRY OF CINEMA: VIDEO

A CONVERSATION AFTER THE EXCLUSIVE PREMIÈRE SCREENING OF THE MULTI-AWARDED SHORT DOCUMENTARY FILM THEN COMES THE EVENING

Filmmaker Maja Novaković’s film, Then Comes the Evening beautifully depicts the life of two old women living in the isolated hills of Eastern Bosnia. Nature is the entity with which they speak, listen to, and respect.

The film emphasizes the intangible cultural heritage through the presentation of chants and rituals for taming the adverse weather, hail, and storm. It reflects the simplicity and purity of their way of life, as well as their painstaking work. In the daily activities that they perform, the excellence and distress of these displays are revealed and revived.

Everyday life shows the caring and intimacy the two old women have both in their mutual relations and in relationship with nature. The poetic tone of the frames relies on references from genre scenes of realism paintings, creating documents of bittersweet everyday life in the countryside.

Then Comes the Evening is a discreet, loving witness to the lives of these two old women living isolated on the hills of Eastern Bosnia: their intimacy, their relationship to nature, a whole cultural heritage made out of songs and rituals to tame bad weather, hail, and storm.

Maja Novaković

Maja Novaković’s stunning debut has garnered 32 awards and 52 nominations, won over audiences at all major documentary festivals around the world, and qualified for the Academy Award® in the Best Short Documentary category. 

The program began with a screening of the short documentary that was then followed by a conversation with Vera Mijojlić, Festival Director of the South East European Film Festival (SEEfest) in Los Angeles, and Logan Crow, Executive Director of The Frida Cinema in Santa Ana. 

The live, virtual event was presented on December 20, 2020 on the co-watch platform Beem.

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In order to help us meet our commitment to the 2021 Festival, we hope you will consider becoming a SEEfest Cine-Fan member to see us through as we continue to bring you the best film and culture from South East Europe.

The Best Orthodox Christmas Bread – Recipe

Use this recipe to make Česnica

During Orthodox Christmas on January 7th, many Serbian families prepare a traditional Christmas bread known as Česnica (ches-nee-tsa). It’s an egg-based bread similar to brioche. It’s fluffy on the inside with a shimmering and crunchy crust.

A unique tradition is associated with Česnica. A coin is kneaded into the dough before the bread is baked and served. The coin represents good luck in the year to come, as well as prosperity, wealth, and health. At the table, each guest grips onto the bread and tears off a piece. So far in our family, the recipient of the coin each year has truly had an exceptional year.

To prepare Česnica, here’s everything you’ll need and how to make it.

Ingredients for Česnica:

  • 1kg flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup oil
  • 500 mL of milk
  • 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • +1 extra egg for egg wash & 1 tbs of butter

Serbian Christmas Bread with coin

How to Make Česnica:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients until you get a sticky, stretchy dough. If the dough is too dry, add more milk.
  2. Knead the dough. (don’t forget to add the lucky coin in this step!)
  3. Cover the dough and let it rise for an hour.
  4. Slice off some of the dough for decoration (approx 1/4 for a braid). In my family, we keep it simple and remove approximately 1/4 for a large braid that we wrap around the top of the bread. Other families opt for more intricate details like leaves, smaller braids, and a cross. In this case, you’ll want to use a separate dough free of yeast.
  5. Create your decoration and attach it to your dough with an egg wash (cracked, whisked egg). Cover with egg wash and dots of butter.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for the first 10 minutes and then 350 for the next 50-60 minutes. 20-30 minutes in, you may want to cover the bread with tin foil so the crust does not burn.
  7. Let cool and enjoy!

If you make your own Česnica, take a photo and tag us @SEEfest on Instagram so we can drool at your delicious Christmas bread creations.

A happy new year and happy holidays everyone!

Support SEEfest

In order to help us meet our commitment to the 2021 Festival, we hope you will consider becoming a SEEfest Cine-Fan member to see us through as we continue to bring you the best film and culture from South East Europe.

 

Sign up to stay in the know as SEEfest 2021 takes shape!

Diary of Diana B at SEEfest 2020 Online Cinema

Watch “The Diary of Diana B.”

Austrian-born Diana Budisavljević leads the comfortable life of the Zagreb upper-middle class when in the fall of 1941 she learns that Jewish and Serbian (Christian Orthodox) women and their children are being taken to Ustasha camps where they are left to die of starvation and disease. Since the Jewish Community is only allowed to send provisions to the Jewish prisoners, the equally vulnerable Serbian women and children are left helpless.

This is the untold story of how Diana organized the largest rescue operation, a campaign that, by the end of World War II, will have saved more than 10,000 children from certain death.

Don’t miss this extraordinary historical drama currently playing in SEEfest virtual cinema.

 

Submissions for the 36th IDA Documentary Awards extended till July 28!

IDA documentary awards

Submissions are open for the 36th Annual IDA Documentary Awards, the world’s most prestigious awards dedicated solely to the documentary genre, celebrating the best nonfiction programs and documentarians of the year!

Entry is open to any non-fiction shorts, features, series, and podcasts completed or publicly released between October 1, 2019, and December 31, 2020. Apply by July 7, 2020!

Films from SEE region in Cannes Cinéfondation selection

Congrats to three student films that made the Cannes Cinéfondation selection: Agapé by Márk Beleznai, Budapest Metropolitan University, Hungary; Contraindicatii by Lucia Chicos, UNATC “I. L. Caragiale,” Romania; and Nihče ni rekel, da te moram imeti rad by Matjaž Jamnik, UL AGRFT, Slovenia.

SUPPORT SEEFEST

If you like our programming orientation and the cultural mission of SEEfest, consider making a donation to support our work. Thank you!

FRIENDS OF SEEFEST

LaemmleLumiere CinemaThe Frida Cinema, and New Filmmakers L.A. each offer a wide variety of films for you to stream online.

 

SEEfest program and activities are supported, in part, by the California Arts Council, a state agency; Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture; and by an Arts Grant from the City of West Hollywood. Special thanks to ELMA, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for their continued support of our programs.

Follow SEEfest on Instagram and Facebook where we post SEE news as it happens!

SEEfest 2020 Extended Dates Plus Virtual Jury Awards

SEEfest extends 2020 festival dates to August

We are pleased to announce the dates of the extended festival run in 2020: From virtual cinema soft launch on June 24 to full program launch on July 15 through Aug 16. During the extended run, a curated program of 57 films will be showcased in our virtual theaters online. Please visit program pages on our website to find out more about the films in this year’s lineup, and start watching early releases.

Jury Awards of the 15th SEEfest

In an exceptionally difficult year our heartfelt thanks go to the members of SEEfest 2020 juries whose awards pay tribute to outstanding films in seven competition categories:

Best Feature Film Award LaurelsBEST FEATURE FILM, GRAND JURY PRIZE
Zana, by Antoneta Kastrati
Honorable Mention: Omar and Us, by Maryna Er Gorbach & Mehmet Bahadır Er

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Ex-aequo:

Queen Lear, by Pelin Esmer; and Bora, Story About a Wind, by Bernhard Pötscher
Honorable Mention: Come Find Me, by Diana Nicolae & Noriflorentina Vito

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY IN A FEATURE FILM
Dávid Hartung, cinematographer, Pilate
Honorable Mentions – shared:
Virginie Saint-Martin, cinematographer, God Exists Her Name is Petrunya
Sevdije Kastrati, cinematographer, Zana
Jani-Petteri Passi, cinematographer, Corporation

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY IN A DOCUMENTARY FILM
Bernhard Pötscher, cinematographer, Bora, Story About a Wind

BEST SHORT FICTION
The Dude, by Alexandros Kakaniaris
Honorable Mention: When I’m at Home, by Ivana Todorović

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY FILM
Then Comes the Evening, by Maja Novaković
Honorable Mention: A Cat is Always Female, by Martina Meštrović, Tanja Vujasinović

BEST SHORT ANIMATION
Passage, by Igor Ćorić
Honorable Mention: Two, by Emre Okten

Congratulations to all filmmakers!

Interview with COMMON STORY filmmaker

We continue to profile filmmakers whose new movies are featured in our 2020 edition. This week we invite you to hear from Gordan Kičić, who spoke with SEEfest team member Azra Isaković about his film, and the triple role he played in COMMON STORY as director, producer and lead actor. Make sure to follow SEEfest youtube channel for more interviews and trailers to come. You can watch the interview here.

 

Submissions Now Open for the 36th IDA Documentary Awards!

IDA documentary awards

Submissions are open for the 36th Annual IDA Documentary Awards, the world’s most prestigious awards dedicated solely to the documentary genre, celebrating the best nonfiction programs and documentarians of the year!

Entry is open to any non-fiction shorts, features, series, and podcasts completed or publicly released between October 1, 2019, and December 31, 2020. Apply by July 7, 2020!

SUPPORT SEEFEST

If you like our programming orientation and the cultural mission of SEEfest, consider making a donation to support our work. Thank you!

FRIENDS OF SEEFEST

LaemmleLumiere CinemaThe Frida Cinema, and New Filmmakers L.A. each offer a wide variety of films for you to stream online.

 

SEEfest program and activities are supported, in part, by the California Arts Council, a state agency; Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture; and by an Arts Grant from the City of West Hollywood. Special thanks to ELMA, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for their continued support of our programs.

Follow SEEfest on Instagram and Facebook where we post SEE news as it happens!

SEEfest Online Edition Launches with COMMON STORY

SEEfest Goes Live with Lighthearted COMMON STORY

Filled with genuine warmth and gentle humor, Common Story (Serbia, 2019, 91 min) takes us through the saga of an actor, Veljko Radisavljević, who believes that the entire universe has conspired against him. He is a walking problem convinced that all the discord in his life is created by people around him, which is why he often gets into comic conflicts with friends, family, colleagues, and even random passersby.

Waiting for the big role that he thinks will solve all his troubles, Veljko slowly begins to come to grips with the real problems in his life.

Directed and produced by the lead actor, Gordan Kičić, this U.S. premiere marks the launch of SEEfest online edition. Don’t miss this rare lighthearted film from South East Europe, and a successful feature debut of a popular actor.

 

 

Watch COMMON STORY in the virtual screening room.

Interview with ZANA filmmakers

 

We begin a series of interviews highlighting filmmakers behind some of the films in the official selection of SEEfest 2020, starting with the L.A.-based team of ZANA. Check out the conversation Hipolito Munoz had with director Antoneta Kastrati, cinematographer Sevdije Kastrati and producer Casey Cooper Johnson. Make sure to follow SEEfest YouTube channel for more interviews and trailers to come, like this interview with ZANA filmmakers.

Summer Festival Jam

montage of outdoor crowds

Transilvania International Film Festival in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, usually slated for June, will be held outdoors from July 31-Aug 9, preceded by Pula Film Festival in Croatia taking place July 18-26 in the beautiful outdoor venue Arena, one of only six surviving amphitheaters from Roman times. On the heels of these two festivals, Sarajevo will welcome visitors to its 26th edition taking place Aug 14-21 in several outdoor venues.

SEE filmmakers on the move: Ioana Mischie VR project goes to Cannes

Ioana Mischie

Tangible Utopias, poetically dubbed as ‘noetic science and hope-filled vision’ VR project by Romanian filmmaker Ioana Mischie is one of 23 selected for Cannes XR industry platform. Last year two of her other projects were successfully presented at SEEfest Accelerator.

SUPPORT SEEFEST

If you like our programming orientation and the cultural mission of SEEfest, consider making a donation to support our work. Thank you!

FRIENDS OF SEEFEST

LaemmleLumiere CinemaThe Frida Cinema, and New Filmmakers L.A. each offer a wide variety of films for you to stream online.

 

SEEfest program and activities are supported, in part, by the California Arts Council, a state agency; Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture; and by an Arts Grant from the City of West Hollywood. Special thanks to ELMA, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for their continued support of our programs.

Follow SEEfest on Instagram and Facebook where we post SEE news as it happens!

How to Enjoy SEEfest At Home

While the 15th South East European Film Festival is temporarily postponed, we invite you to stay in touch and enjoy some of the films from our past editions online. They are available on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and some on YouTube (and some for free)! We’ll share updates, tips, and recommendations on Instagram at @seefest and here, on our website.

Stay safe, and we hope you enjoy our movie choices! Be sure to let us know in the comments, which films are your favorites! Check out SEEfest At Home Part 2

SARAJEVO

This lavishly produced thriller was first screened at the opening of our festival in 2014. The story is told from the point of view of the examining magistrate who was tasked with investigating the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 2014. It perfectly summarized the festival’s theme, “Europe in time of turmoil”, highlighting the turbulent past that looms large over the present.

Directed by Andreas Prochaska. Main cast: Florian Teichtmeister, Jürgen Maurer, Melika Foroutan, Edin Hasanović.

SARAJEVO is available on Netflix.

 

THE WAY I SPENT THE END OF THE WORLD

The Way I Spent the End of the WorldShown at SEEfest back in 2007, the film is a bitter-sweet throwback to Romania on the eve of the 1989 revolution, with ordinary people committing small and oftentimes comic acts of defiance while naively dreaming of swimming across the Danube to freedom – or fantasizing about escaping in a submarine.

Directed by Catalin Mitulescu. Main cast: Dorotheea Petre, Timotei Duma, Ionut Becheru, Jean Constantin.

THE WAY I SPENT THE END OF THE WORLD is available on Amazon Prime.

 

THE CONSTITUTION

The ConstitutionThe opening film of the 2017 edition of our festival. While recovering from a homophobia-driven assault, a Croatian professor confronts his own xenophobia after agreeing to help his Serbian neighbor memorize the Croatian constitution for a citizenship exam. An example of a great director-writer pairing (Rajko Grlić and Ante Tomić), this film features three amazing actors from Serbia and Croatia in a very funny and poignant ‘love story about hate.’

Directed by Rajko Grlić. Main cast: Nebojša Glogovac, Ksenija Marinković, Dejan Aćimović.

THE CONSTITUTION is available on Amazon Prime.

 

NO MAN’S LAND

No Man's LandDanis Tanović’s Academy Award®-winning satire of the war in the Balkans is an astounding balancing act, an acidic black comedy grounded in the brutality and horror of war. Stuck in an abandoned trench between enemy lines, a Serb and a Bosnian play the blame game in a comic tit-for-tat struggle while a wounded Bosnian soldier lies helplessly on a land mine. A French tank unit of the U.N.’s humanitarian force (known locally as “the Smurfs”), a scheming British TV reporter, a German mine defuser, and the U.N. high command (led by a bombastically ineffectual Simon Callow) all become tangled in the chaotic rescue as the tenuous cease-fire is only a spark away from detonation. Tanovic directs with a ferocious, angry eloquence and makes his points with vivid metaphors and savage humor as harrowing as it is hilarious. Searing and smart, this satire carries an emotional recoil.– written by Sean Axmaker.

Directed by Danis Tanović. Main cast: Branko Đurić, Rene Bitorajac, Filip Šovagović. SEEfest held a special 10th-anniversary screening of the film in 2012.

NO MAN’S LAND is available on Amazon Prime.

 

THE EYE OF ISTANBUL

The Eye of IstanbulThe legendary Armenian-Turkish photographer Ara Güler dedicated his life to recording the spirit of one of the most vivid cities on earth: Istanbul. Güler’s colorful life and witty commentary will keep you entertained while you discover the unforgettable vistas and rarely seen corners of the great city. The film, directed by Binnur Karaevli and Fatih Kaymak, screened at SEEfest in 2016.

THE EYE OF ISTANBUL is available on iTunes/Apple, and Amazon Prime.

 

Become a guest curator for our online edition!

While we all need to do our part and follow the public health guidelines to keep us and others safe, shelter-in-place can be challenging. When you take a break from working remotely or get tired of binge-watching your favorite shows, join the SEEfest community of artists and create a short video, podcast, jingle or cartoon and share with us on Instagram and tag us @seefest or submit to us via the website.

 

SEEfest program and activities are supported, in part, by the California Arts Council, a state agency; Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Art and Culture; and presented with the support of the City of West Hollywood. For more info on WeHo Arts programming please visit www.weho.org/arts or follow via social media @WeHoArts. Special thanks to ELMA, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for their continued support of our programs.

Tickets Are On Sale Now For All Screenings And Events

SEEfest 2019 Kicks Off in 2 Weeks

SEEfest 2019 Cinema of Audacity, May 1-8, 2019Tickets are on sale now for all SEEfest 2019 features, shorts programs, and special events. Screenings will take place in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Echo Park and other locations — find all the venues here and don’t forget to go Metro! Plan your trip using the Trip Planner on the venue page.

This year’s SEEfest, running May 1-8, will explore the theme of cinematic audacity by drawing attention to filmmakers whose works grapple with complex existential, ethical, and historical questions in innovative, and provocative ways. You can secure your festival pass now on Eventbrite.

 

A SAMPLING OF SEEFEST PREMIERES!

See more of the festival lineup online and get your festival pass and single tickets today on Eventbrite. 

I Act, I AmI ACT, I AM
Los Angeles Premiere!
Bosnia Herzegovina, Slovenia, Croatia
Director: Miroslav Mandic

May 9 at 9:30 pm at Laemmle Music Hall Beverly Hills

Talk about method acting! Three stories examine, through actors, the paradox of life stripped bare of societal constraints. In each story, an actor is either researching or playing a role, eventually beginning to live the life of the character.

Watch the trailer and get tickets here

Borders, RaindropsBORDERS, RAINDROPS 
North American Premiere!
Bosnia Herzegovina
Directors: VLASTIMIR SUDAR, NIKOLA MIJOVIĆ

May 6 at 9 pm at Laemmle Music Hall Beverly Hills

Jagoda, a city girl, is on a summer visit to her extended family in the Balkan countryside overlooking the Adriatic. Her presence awakens hope, love, and the sense of mystery.

Watch the trailer and get tickets here. 

Occupied CinemaOCCUPIED CINEMA
North American Premiere!
Serbia
Director: 
SENKA DOMANOVIĆ

May 6 @ 8 pm at Echo Park Film Center

An engrossing documentary about guerrilla action initiated by young activists taking over a long-abandoned privatized cinema in Belgrade. The occupation revitalizes the cinema over the course of a year with 500 screenings, dozens of concerts and public discussions, and participation from hundreds of artists, activists, and filmmakers.

Watch the trailer and get tickets here

 

What Does “Premiere” Mean?

Do you know precisely what it means when a screening is labeled as a Premiere?

World Premiere: first official screening of the film.

International Premiere: first screening outside the country of origin. And also the first festival screening.
SEEfest is proud to be screening many North American premieres such as Occupied Cinema and Borders, Raindrops mentioned above.
Learn more in this article about the various levels of Premieres and what they mean.

 

SEEFEST SPONSORS

SEEfest program and activities are supported, in part, by the California Arts Council, a state agency; Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; and presented with the support of the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division. Special thanks to ELMA for continued support of our programs.

Festivals: Hana Jušić and Salomé Jashi Win Top Awards In Belgrade and Zagreb

SEEfest Editorial | March 6 , 2017 — BELGRADE: Croatian Quit Staring at My Plate by Hana Jušić was awarded the Belgrade Victor for Best Film at the 45th Belgrade International Film Festival – FEST, while Serbia’s Requiem for Mrs. J by Bojan Vuletić was awarded Best Film in the National Competition program. 

ZAGREB: Georgian/German coproduction The Dazzling Light of Sunset by Salomé Jashi won the Big Stamp for Best Film in the International Competition of the 13th edition of ZagrebDox

(more…)

Serbian-American VR Wunderkind at Tribeca

Only a year ago at Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier did Milica Zec present a short narrative piece called “Giant.” By this Spring she, together with her partner, Winslow Turner Porter III, has become a fixture on the festival circuit with stops at Cannes and now Tribeca. At Tribeca Milica will present “Tree,” which premiered earlier this year.

“See and feel what it is like to become a tree in this haptically enhanced VR experience. With your arms as the branches and your body as the trunk, you experience the growth from a seedling to its fullest form, taking on its role in the majestic rain forest and witnessing its fate firsthand.”

If you live in New York City, don’t miss the opportunity to experience Milica’s work and meet her in person. She’s quite charming! 

More about the Virtual Arcade at Tribeca 

More about Milica Zec and TREE 

 

 

 

 


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