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The Physics of Sorrow

Theodore Ushev
2019 | 27 min
Animation Technique – Encaustic painting


Selections and Awards

  • Cristal Award for Best Short FilmAnnecy International Animation Film Festival, Annecy, France (2020)

  • FIPRESCI Award for a Short FilmAnnecy International Animation Film Festival, Annecy, France (2020)

  • Official Selection, Canada's Top Ten of 2019TIFF - Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto, Canada (2019)

  • Honourable Mention for Best Canadian Short FilmTIFF - Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto, Canada (2019)

  • Canadian Film Institute Award for Best Canadian AnimationOttawa International Animation Film Festival, Ottawa, Canada (2019)

  • Best Short Film & Best Animated Short Film Festival du nouveau cinéma - FNC, Montreal, Canada (2019)

  • Honourable Mention in the Best Canadian Short Film Category Vancouver International Film Festival, Vancouver, Canada (2019)

  • Golden Spike for Best Short FilmValladolid International Film Festival, Valladolid, Spain (2019)

  • Official SelectionAnimafest Zagreb – World Festival of Animated Film, Zagreb, Croatia (2020)

  • Winner, Director – Fiction / Winner, AnimationYorkton Film Festival, Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada (2020)

More Selections and Awards

Short Synopsis

One-Liner & Two-Liner

Description of Animation Technique


Promotional Materials



The Technique (Making-of)


Director Theodore Ushev - Additional Photos

Stephan Ballard
Photo : © Stephan Ballard
Stephan Ballard
Photo : © Stephan Ballard
Stephan Ballard
Photo : © Stephan Ballard
Stephan Ballard
Photo : © Stephan Ballard
Stephan Ballard
Photo : © Stephan Ballard
Stephan Ballard
Photo : © Stephan Ballard
Stephan Ballard
Photo : © Stephan Ballard


Theodore Ushev
Photo : NFB

Theodore Ushev

Born in Kyustendil, 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 National Film Board of Canada, where he has made more than 10 films to date, including Lipsett Diaries (2010), about the tortured life and art of the acclaimed experimental filmmaker, and the Academy Award®-nominated short Blind Vaysha (2016). Ushev’s films have won more than 150 awards and mentions and have screened in many retrospectives.

In 2011, Ushev’s drawings and paintings were exhibited at the Barbican Centre in London, the Museum of Civilization in Quebec, and the City Art Gallery in Sofia. Ushev frequently combines ancient techniques and cutting-edge technologies in his art, producing numerous installations and VR and mixed-media projects. He has also taught and given workshops and master classes at universities and festivals around the world, including in Japan, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, the UK and Hungary.

The Physics of Sorrow (2019), adapted from the book by Georgi Gospodinov, a compelling and personal portrait of rootlessness and identity, is Ushev’s latest project, and his most ambitious work to date.

Marc Bertrand
Photo : Stephan Ballard

Marc Bertrand

Since joining the NFB’s French Animation Studio in 1998, Marc Bertrand has produced more than one hundred films, including a number of award-winning titles. He’s worked with Theodore Ushev for many years, producing some of the filmmaker’s most significant works, including Tower Bawher (2006); Drux Flux (2009); Lipsett Diaries (2010), which received a Genie Award and a Special Mention at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival; Gloria Victoria, winner of the 2013 FIPRESCI Award at Annecy; and Blind Vaysha, which won both the Jury Award and the Junior Jury Award for a Short Film at Annecy before being nominated for an Oscar® in 2017. He also produced Patrick Doyon’s Oscar-nominated short Sunday (2011), which won the 2012 Jutra Award for Best Animated Film.

Over the years, Marc has worked with both established and up-and-coming filmmakers, including Jacques Drouin (Imprints, 2004), Georges Schwizgebel (Romance, 2011, Genie Award), Nicola Lemay and Janice Nadeau (No Fish Where to Go, 2014, FIPRESCI Award at Annecy), Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre (Jutra, 2013, selected for the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes and winner of a Jutra and Canadian Screen Award), and Diane Obomsawin (I Like Girls, 2016, which won an award at the Ottawa International Animation Festival).

Marc’s projects in 2019 include Moïa Jobin-Paré’s No Objects (Special Jury Prize at Animafest Zagreb 2019), Theodore Ushev’s The Physics of Sorrow, graphic novelists Iris and Cathon’s La liste des choses qui existent, Catherine Lepage’s The Great Malaise, and Andreas Hykade’s new opus, Altötting.

Julie Roy
Executive Producer (NFB)

Julie Roy

As the Executive Producer of the National Film Board of Canada’s French Animation Studio, Julie Roy has produced some 40 animated short films. She holds a master’s degree in cinema studies from Université de Montréal and has published numerous articles about women and animated films.

In 2019, she co-produced Regina Pessoa’s Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days (Ciclope Filmes/NFB/Les Armateurs), which won two awards at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, including the Jury Award in the short film category. She was also the executive producer for Theodore Ushev’s new film, The Physics of Sorrow. Other recent productions include Patrick Bouchard’s The Subject and Matthew Rankin’s The Tesla World Light, both of which screened at Cannes, at the 2018 Directors’ Fortnight and the 2017 Semaine de la Critique, respectively. In 2016, she co-produced Franck Dion’s The Head Vanishes (Papy 3D/NFB), which won the Cristal Award at Annecy. Among the many other artists whose work she has guided are Claude Cloutier and Michèle Lemieux.

Roy encourages diverse approaches to filmmaking. She is currently developing an interactive installation with Nicolas Brault and working with Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski (Madame Tutli-Putli, 2007) on their next short film.


The National Film Board of Canada
with the participation of ARTE France


The Physics of Sorrow

A film by
Theodore Ushev

Based on the book The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov

With the voice of
Rossif Sutherland

Sometimes the end of the world is a purely personal matter…

In memory of my father

Marc Bertrand

Sound Design
Olivier Calvert

Additional voices
Donald Sutherland
Manuel Tadros
Theodore Ushev

Anca Damian
Georgi Gospodinov

Helge Dascher
Karen Lynn Houle

Mélanie Gleize

Copyright Clearance
Sylvia Mezei

With the participation of ARTE France
Cinema Department
Short Film Program Manager: Hélène Vayssières

Natalie Hamel Roy
Maxwell Diggory
Martin Delisle
Alexandra Ushev


Shitty City
Yesterday’s Fire
Composed by: Spencer Krug, Risto Joensuu, Markus Joensuu, Saku Kämärälinen, Matti Ahopelto
Performed by: Moonface
With permission from Third Side Music

Hungarian Quick March
Composed by: Franz Listz
Performed by: Central Wind Orchestra of the Hungarian Army
With permission from Naxos of America, Inc.

The Safety Dance
Composed by: Ivan Doroschuk
Performed by: Men Without Hats
With permission from Universal Music Publishing Canada and Marc Durand Productions

Composed by: Nikola Gruev
Performed by: Kottarashky
With permission from Asphalt Tango Records

The Hebrides, Op. 26, Fingal’s Cave
Composed by: Felix Mendelssohn
With permission from Naxos of America, Inc.

Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D 759/ Rosamunde
Composed by: Franz Schubert
With permission from Naxos of America, Inc.

Tous les garçons et les filles
Composed by: Françoise Hardy, Roger Samyn
Performed by: Françoise Hardy
With permission from Sony Music Entertainment and Les Éditions Ad Litteram

Sound Archives
National Film Board of Canada
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Technical Direction
Pierre Plouffe
Eric Pouliot

Technical Specialist
Yannick Grandmont

Technical Coordination
Jean-François Laprise

Nicolas Gagnon

Foley Recording
Geoffrey Mitchell

Isabelle Lussier

Online Editing
Serge Verreault

Associate Producers
Anne-Marie Bousquet
Mylène Augustin

Diane Régimbald
Karine Desmeules

Senior Production Coordinator
Camila Blos

Studio Coordinators
Michèle Labelle
Laetitia Seguin

Geneviève Bérard

Executive Producer
Julie Roy

Animation Studio
Programming and Production, French Program
Creation and Innovation

© 2019 National Film Board of Canada

Press Relations

  • Nadine Viau
    NFB Publicist – Montreal
    C.: 514-458-9745

  • 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.