When Miron’s beloved wife Tanya passes away, he asks his best friend Aist to help him say goodbye to her according to the rituals of the Merja culture, an ancient Finno-Ugric tribe from Lake Nero, a picturesque region in West-Central Russia.
Although the Merja people assimilated into Russians in the 17th century, their myths and traditions live on in their descendants’ modern life.
The two men set out on a roadtrip thousands of miles across the boundless lands. With them, two small birds in a cage. Along the way, as is custom for the Merjas, Miron shares intimate memories of his conjugal life. But as they reach the banks of the sacred lake where they will forever part with the body, he realizes he wasn’t the only one in love with Tanya…
About Denis Osokin
Denis Osokin was born in Kazan in 1977. He studied psychology at Warsaw University and is also a graduate of the philology department of Kazan University. He majored in the folklore of the Volga ethnic minorities. As a writer of short stories he has won several prestigious prizes. He also worked in television in Kazan, where his projects included documentaries on the culture and traditions of the people of the Volga region. The screenplay of Silent Souls, adapted by Osokin from his own novel, won him the Best Screenplay Award at the Mar Del Plata Film Festival. The film also won multiple awards at the 67th Venice Film Festival, including the FIPRESCI Prize.
Jury Comments – Cameron Bailey
A strong screenplay is so much more than the words spoken by actors and Silent Souls excels in every aspect. Its structure is thought through and well-shaped and its ideas embedded in original scenes. Even better, this film caught me by surprise more than once, delivering startling images that somehow still felt entirely true to human nature.