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By Alan Ng | April 26, 2023

When you step off the path of righteousness for so long, is there any chance of coming back? That question is asked in writer-director Anastasia Norenko’s short film Confession.

Our tale opens in a Russian Church in the late 19th century. A priest (Eduard Chekmazov) is attending to the great hall of his parish. Slipping through the darkness is a sinner (Ivan Shibanov), who the priest invites closer to the warmth of the church’s candles. The man steps forward, out of the shadows, in confession of his sins.

This man was once righteous following the way of God, but he stepped off the path into sinful life and a faith that faded over time. As a result, the sinner now finds himself at the darkest point in his life. The once righteous man wonders if his life were to end would he spend an eternity in torment, or would he rest in peace?

“…once righteous following the way of God, but he stepped off the path into sinful life…”

Confession is based on a poem written by Norenko. The film is a poem performed by Ivan Shibanov. He speaks in an almost Shakespearean fashion as the sinner expresses the thoughts that have been swirling in his mind over years of sinful living. It all culminates in its first and final recitation at this moment.

The sinner’s story is told in a single shot without edits. Norenko adeptly choreographs her play between not just the priest and the sinner but with camera movements as the sinner makes full use of the church. Not to burst the bubble, but the ADR sometimes doesn’t quite match up. These moments are small, and yes, I’m nitpicking a bit.

That said, the film rests upon Ivan Shibanov’s haunting performance as a tortured man looking for rest on this earth in hopes that his rest will be eternal as well. But does he believe he deserves such? Was God even there when he walked off the righteous path? Shibanov’s confession is aided greatly by not only Norenko’s production choices in the church but her use of candles to light the scenes. The setting of Confession brilliantly matches the grave tone of the sinner’s words.

For screening information about Confession, visit Anastasia Norenko’s official website.

Confession (2023)

Directed and Written: Anastasia Norenko

Starring: Eduard Chekmazov, Ivan Shibanov, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Confession Image

"…rests upon Ivan Shibanov's haunting performance as a tortured man..."

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