|Directed by||Aleksey Fedorchenko|
|Produced by||Igor Mishin|
|Written by||Denis Osokin|
|Music by||Andrey Karasyov|
Silent Souls (Russian, "The Buntings") is a 2010 Russian film that was nominated for the Golden Lion at the 67th Venice Film Festival. It is based on a 2008 novella by Denis Osokin. The film was awarded the Golden Osella for best cinematography and a FIPRESCI award. It was considered a frontrunner for the Golden Lion, but did not win. However, it did win Best Screenplay (awarded to Denis Osokin) at the 2011 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
Aist is a middle-aged bachelor who leads a lonely life in the northern town of Neya. Like many of his neighbours, he identifies himself as a Meryan and strives to keep alive the ancient traditions of his people. One day his boss, Miron, informs Aist of the death of his wife Tanya. Later, the pair spend quite some time washing her body and putting coloured threads in her pubic hair. (In their culture, the same ritual is performed on brides-to-be). The two men take her body to Gorbatov (the smallest town in Russia), in order to perform cremation rites on the banks of the Oka River. In the car, they carry with them two Bunting birds. On their way back to Neya, they get lost and are approached by two prostitutes, with whom they have sex. Later on, while crossing "the great Meryan river" (The Volga), on the Kineshma Bridge, the Buntings fly around the car, causing it to crash into the river. Both men drown.
Silent Souls received considerable praise from film critics. The official Rossiyskaya Gazeta compared the film to Tarkovsky's best work as a powerful evocation of pre-Christian roots of rural Russia.Andrei Plakhov praised the film as "a metaphor for the lost (and probably mythical) world that was crushed by the moloch of industrialisation".
Among American critics, Jim Hoberman wrote: "Dour yet affirmative, this laconic, deliberately paced, beautifully shot movie seeks the archaic in the ordinary". Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times commented: "Populated by memories and dappled with desire, "Silent Souls" is part folk tale, part lesson in letting go. In its quiet acceptance of the passing of time, this unusual film reminds us that to die is not always the same as to disappear".Roger Ebert expressed the opinion that the film "in only 75 perfect minutes achieves the profundity of an epic", also mentioning that "not often have I been more deeply touched".