The Difference Between Us

1985 25mins Umatic

This unfinished film provides a fascinating outsider’s insight into life in the Soviet Union before the wall came down.

Whilst on an organized tour in 1984 our three liberal British protagonists were unexpectedly invited to spend an evening with a Russian computer science teacher at his flat on a vast estate on the outskirts of Leningrad, where he laid on a celebration tea for them.

The Englishmen are seen reminiscing about the evening over dinner in a London house. They try to remember what occurred in the Russian flat the previous year; what they ate, saw, and discussed. They reveal themselves whilst evaluating their impressions and ideas about the place, the event, and their host and his circumstances. The evening was recorded from the seat at the table that would have been occupied by their absent Russian friend.

This material was to be intercut with footage carefully lit, art directed, and shot on 16mm black and white film which shows the events they are describing and discussing, or contradicts their memories of them, as they converse.

The visual qualities of the two aspects of the film would have contradicted the reality of the two situations. The fiction was to have been richer and crisper than the recorded real event
that underscores it.

All the spoken dialogue in the finished film would have emanated from the London side, but evocative sounds heard from the Russian side; footsteps, the pouring of tea, the striking of a match.