Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 19, 2018

The Confessional

Filed under: Film,middle east — louisproyect @ 6:15 pm

This Saturday evening at 6pm and showing at the Rich Mix theater, Londoners will be able to see the premiere of Lucas Jedrzejak’s “The Confessional”. The film is part of the East End Film Festival and is based on a play by Andrew Woodward who adapted it into a screenplay in combination with Emily Swain. Swain plays an Irish nun who is working with refugees that have fled violence in the Middle East. We are not told where they have come from but it is just as possible that they are Yazidis from Iraq or Sunnis from Syria. Unlike documentaries such as Jedrzejak’s “Ketermaya” that is explicitly about Syrian refugees in Lebanon, “The Confessional” operates on another plane. It is much more about people trying to find absolution in a period of apocalyptic warfare under ever-increasingly conditions of savagery. It may not be possible to find such absolution, not even for a nun.

As Sister Claire, Emily Swain is frayed at the edges. We are not exactly sure why she is wound so tight but it likely has much to do with her work on behalf of refugees that Jedrzejak is intimately familiar with as having spent months at a time in Ketermaya.

One day as she is out on a walk with some refugee children, they are nearly run down by a caravan of cars that is filled with men in suits who have come to Iraq to finalize a deal with some of the country’s elite. In a conversation between two of the investors beforehand, we are told that one of the men is troubled but we only find out how troubled he is when his path accidentally crosses that of Sister Claire.

She has found sanctuary in a church’s confessional box where she sits by herself swigging on a pint of whiskey. Not long after her arrival, the troubled man stops at the church to confess his sins to a priest. His role in launching the war in Iraq keeps him up at night even if its proceeds line his pocket. Even though he is still in the business of neocolonial exploitation, something keeps nagging away at him. Was the invasion of Iraq a sin? Were all the deaths and the ongoing chaos worth it?

Instead of a priest, he runs into Sister Claire who perhaps lubricated by alcohol or perhaps angry over what England did to Iraq as well as her native country decides to extract a confession out of the man that is much more like what a cop gets out of a criminal than any feel-good Catholic rite.

Needless to say, the film is very topical and worth seeing even though it offers no pat solutions to the ongoing agony of the Middle East, as no film could.

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