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Festival Predictions

2013 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Saodat Ismailova’s 40 Days of Silence

Uzbekistan isn’t the first nation that comes to mind when we think of a fest that is chock-full in American Independent film offerings, but over the years, the Sundance Labs have been including residents with different colored passports. Supported by the January Screenwriters Lab and June Screenwriters Labs along with the Directors Lab of 2010 ( Saodat Ismailova blogged about the experience with Filmmaker Mag), 40 Days of Silence is currently in post-production and is the type of micro-project with a lot of clout – it landed support from Rotterdam, Cannes and Torino.

Gist: Bibicha is a young woman who suddenly refuses to speak, and conceals herself from villagers in the house of her grandmother Khanjarmomo. Khanjarmomo lives with her illegally born granddaughter Sharifa; they both support Bibicha in her vow of 40 days of silence, which she carries out in hopes of being rejoined by her recently disappeared lover. Yet Khanjarmomo doubts the girl’s motives: is the vow really for the sake of her beloved, or is she trying to hide an illicit pregnancy?

Production Co./Producers: Benny Drechsel, Karsten Stöter, Denis Vaslin, Antoine Segovia, Saodat Ismailova, Kamilla Biktimirova

Prediction: World Cinema Dramatic Competition plus a possible showing in Rotterdam the week after.

U.S. Distributor: Rights Available



Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).


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