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19th ÉCU Film Festival, Paris

"I love the challenge of writing visual poetry with motion picture, music, and words; and hope to get better at it to meet my own standards in the future."

Festival Screening:



April 18, 2024  

The film pushes the boundaries of storytelling and explores the possibilities of minimal film production, using only a phone camera and an actor. It tells the story of a young woman who failed to confess her love when the timing was ideal, and now she must record her confession on her phone to send it to the intended recipient. But does she still have a chance to be heard?


Hi Anna, thank you for taking the time to talk with The New Current. Are you looking forward to screening Love Confession at ÉCU this year?


Most definitely! It is a very exciting opportunity for me as I am just starting out my career in film. 


With this being you debut experimental film, what has it meant for you to get this type of recognition for your work?


I felt incredibly thankful for being understood by the selection committee. The invitation from ÉCU came at the time when I least expected it. As a young filmmaker, I feel a lot of doubt about when to follow my instincts, and when to make my projects more accessible and hence compromise on their poetic qualities. The ÉCU’s recognition is encouraging for me to be more daring and fearless.


Will there be any nerves ahead of your screening in Paris?


I don’t think there will be. I have no ambition in winning, which is not to say that I am not ambitions as a person. It is the very first work I did during my film school studies, and to have the opportunity to share it, is more than I could have dreamed of. I am mainly excited to see other people’s work, connect with likeminded filmmakers, and hopefully build some strong professional relations for future projects.


How important are festivals like ÉCU in continuing to champion and support independent films and filmmakers?


For me ÉCU’s work is critical for the film industry. I am a strong advocate for art works, in a broad sense of the word, that foster nuanced conversations and help people to be more human if you will. Those qualities seem to be missing in many big studios films these days. Moreover, the inspiration and creative innovation that can be discovered in indie films cannot be underestimated, and ÉCU plays an incredibly important role in making those works visible.


Can you tell me a little bit about how Love Confession came about, what inspired you to make this unique film?


As I always like to say, my biggest inspiration comes from rigid restrictions. The first class in my film school in Moscow, we were given a task to record a video love confession and make it obvious why it has to be sent via phone, and why the person couldn’t have confessed their love otherwise. At first, I felt lost in the number of potential stories one could tell, but none of them were working particularly well. After watching few works by my fellow classmates, I learned even more about things that didn’t work and felt artificial. Right after class my brain was wired to find the right frame for the task. I started thinking about the person I want to confess my love the most. Of course, it was my mother: the strongest, most beautiful, understanding and kind person you could imagine. Then I asked myself a question, what are the conditions under which I’d record her a video confession. The answer appeared in my mind instantly. Once I had it, I wrote a brief outline of the script and recorded the film from the first take.


What where the biggest challenges you faced using an iPhone to make this film?


Since the use of iPhone was imbedded in the original idea for the film, I had no challenges using it.


When working on a project like this how much flexibility do you allow yourself?


The script was very rough when I set down to record the film. I was speaking from myself, but in imaginary circumstances, so the most important thing was to believe in them and let my heart speak the truth I felt in the moment. The flexibility to not hold on to the words was a big part of it. You can almost consider this short as an improv cinematography piece.


Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this shoot?


Absolutely not, and this answer goes to everything that I have done in my life. I always do everything I can – like all of us frankly – in the circumstances I am presented with, and I am very happy about the imprint my work leaves.


What would you say has been the most valuable lesson you’ve taken from making Love Confession?


I learned two things: have a solid plan in theory, leave the room for magic in the execution.


Where did your passion for filmmaking and art come from?


I was raised in a very particular St. Petersburg environment. In my family creative geniuses such as Leonardo, Fellini and Tchaikovsky have always been put on a pedestal. When I was a teenager, we were competing with my school mates on who had read more novels by Hemingway, Remarque and Balzac. Being cultured was a given, the extent to which you were cultured would determine your social status. In short, I was raised with a mentality of a pre-revolutionary Russian, where dedicating yourself to art was the most noble thing to do. I didn’t have much choice, but to develop this passion for arts be that film, fine art or literature.


How did the StandArt Foundation come about, what is the contemporary art community like in Russia?


After completing my studies in Art History at the New York University, I worked at a number of prestigious art institutions in New York, including Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Sotheby’s. However, I felt rather disconnected from the art that I was surrounded by. 


At first, I returned to Russia to learn about my own culture, which I’ve been detached from since I had left to study abroad at the age of 16. When I realised how exciting the developing art landscape in Russia is, I figured that there should be a systematised way of bringing top artistic talent to the West. The main goal of the foundation was to act as an intermediary between the Russian art scene and top international curators to allow for a greater integration of artists from Russia into the international art context.

Right now, the Russian contemporary art community is very fragmented with many artists having to relocate abroad and others facing the potential of state repressions. Yet I am more hopeful than ever about the future of Russian art as it has many important messages to deliver to the world whenever it is ready to listen.


Even though I had to suspend operations of the foundation, I still work with artists developing a female Russian art collective, 8 Powers, and a documentary film project about artists from St. Petersburg and issues of displacement they are facing both in Russia and in the West. I also occasionally publish Russian art overviews on my Substack, which I hope can one day turn into a valuable art historical resource. 

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Was there any one film that you saw growing up that sparked the filmmaker inside you?


I don’t think so. I am extremely egocentric in my interests. The filmmaker inside me was sparked when I realised that I could express the storm of feelings I have always carried inside not only through poetry, which I was doing since I had learned how to speak, but through such a complex and collaborative medium as film. I love the challenge of writing visual poetry with motion picture, music, and words; and hope to get better at it to meet my own standards in the future.


Is there any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?


I am sure there are many more competent filmmakers to be sharing their advice, but something I wish someone told me when I was starting out, is the importance of building a reliable team you share the same vocabulary with. So many times, you speak with people using the same linguistic language, but can’t find the common ground because your experiences in that language are so different. I’m hinting at the Wittgenstein’s ideas here, importance of which cannot be underestimated. Find people from all departments of film industry that you speak the same language with and don’t hesitate to collaborate repeatedly for as long as that connection and understanding is there.


And finally, what is the message you would like your audience to take from Love Confession?


There is nothing more valuable in the world than spending all the time you can with people you love and who love you back. Prioritise those people over whatever distractions come your way. Tell them you love them, bring them chocolates, flowers, books, or anything else that their soul desires. More than this, there is nothing.

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