1. Media Space

  2. Press Releases

Annecy festival’s Cristal Award for best short film goes to Theodore Ushev’s The Physics of Sorrow (NFB). Ushev’s short also wins FIPRESCI Prize at Annecy.


June 20, 2020 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Filmmaker Theodore Ushev is a regular at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, where he had already won four awards over the years. This year, he received the festival’s highest distinction for the first time: the Cristal Award for best short film, for the NFB-produced The Physics of Sorrow. Ushev’s most ambitious film to date also garnered the FIPRESCI Prize, awarded by the International Federation of Film Critics in the short films in official competition category. The Annecy festival will continue online until June 30, 2020.

Quick facts

  • The NFB production The Physics of Sorrow, directed by Theodore Ushev, has received two awards at the 2020 Annecy festival: the Cristal for best short film (the festival’s highest distinction) and the FIPRESCI Prize.
  • The filmmaker had previously won four other awards at Annecy: the short film Jury Award and Junior Jury Award for Blind Vaysha (2016), the FIPRESCI Prize for Gloria Victoria (2013) and a special mention (ex aequo) for Lipsett Diaries (2010).
  • The Physics of Sorrow had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). So far, it has won more than 25 awards and been selected for 50 international festivals.


“Annecy has always been an important part of my life as a filmmaker, from my first projects on the web in 2002 to my latest film, The Physics of Sorrow. The festival practically took me by the hand and taught me to walk, as a father would for his child. I’ve won several awards at Annecy, except one: the spectacular Cristal Award. I’m extremely happy to receive it now, and feel like a mountaineer who has finally reached the summit after 18 years of climbing: this is my Everest!” − Theodore Ushev, director

About the film

The Physics of Sorrow by Theodore Ushev (27 min)

Produced by Marc Bertrand at the NFB with the participation of ARTE France
Executive producer: Julie Roy (NFB)
Press kit (synopsis, biographies, images): mediaspace.nfb.ca/the-physics-of-sorrow

The first fully animated film made using the encaustic-painting technique, The Physics of Sorrow was inspired by the novel of the same name by Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov and is a compelling and personal portrait of rootlessness and identity. The short is narrated in French by Xavier Dolan and in English by Rossif Sutherland, with a special guest-voice contribution from Donald Sutherland.

About the filmmaker

Born in Bulgaria, Theodore Ushev first made a name for himself as a poster artist in his native country before settling in Montreal in 1999. In Montreal, Ushev worked in the multimedia industry and then found fruitful creative soil at the NFB, where he has made more than 10 films to date, including Lipsett Diaries (2010), an homage to acclaimed experimental filmmaker Arthur Lipsett, and the Academy Award-nominated Blind Vaysha (2016). Ushev’s films have won more than 150 awards and mentions and have screened in many retrospectives.

NFB productions and co-productions online at the Annecy festival until June 30

In addition to The Physics of Sorrow, three other NFB productions or co-productions have been selected for the festival and are making their world premiere online: the animated shorts Altötting by Andreas Hykade and I, Barnabé by Jean-François Lévesque and the virtual reality work The Orchid and the Bee by Frances Adair Mckenzie.

– 30 –

Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopses: Altötting | I, Barnabé | The Orchid and the Bee | The Physics of Sorrow

Associated Links

Annecy International Animation Film Festival
ARTE France

French press release here | Communiqué français ici.

Media Relations

  • About the NFB

    The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a leader in exploring animation as an artform, a storytelling medium and innovative content for emerging platforms. It produces trailblazing animated works both in its Montreal studios and across  the country, and it works with many of the world’s leading creators on international co-productions. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including seven Oscars for NFB animation and seven grand prizes at the Annecy festival. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.