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The Heart of the World is a short film written and directed by Guy Maddin, produced for the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival. Maddin was one of a number of directors (including Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg) commissioned to make four-minute short films that would screen prior to the various feature films at the 2000 festival.[1][2] After hearing rumours that other directors were planning films with a small number of shots, Maddin decided that his film would instead contain over 100 shots per minute, and enough plot for a feature-length film. Maddin then wrote and shot The Heart of the World in the style of Russian constructivism, taking the commission at its literal face value, as a call to produce a propaganda film. Even in its expanded, 6-minute version, The Heart of the World runs at a breakneck speed, averaging roughly two shots per second, a pace intensified by the background music, Time, Forward! by Georgy Sviridov.

The Heart of the World
Directed byGuy Maddin
Produced byNiv Fichman
Jody Shapiro
Written byGuy Maddin
StarringLeslie Bais
Caelum Vatnsdal
Shaun Balbar
Music byGeorgy Sviridov
CinematographyGuy Maddin
Edited byDeco Dawson
Guy Maddin
Release date
Running time
6 min.


Plot summaryEdit

The plot of The Heart of the World concerns two brothers, Osip and Nikolai, who compete for the love of the same woman: Anna, a state scientist studying the Earth's core. Anna discovers that the heart of the world is in danger of a fatal heart attack (which would mean the end of the world), and the brothers compete amongst the public panic. Nikolai is a mortician and tries to impress Anna with assembly-line embalming, while Osip is an actor playing Christ in the Passion Play and tries to impress Anna through his suffering. Anna is instead seduced by an evil capitalist, but has a change of heart and strangles the plutocrat, then slides down into the heart of the world, where she manages to save the world from destruction by transforming into cinema itself, the world's "new and better heart — Kino!"[3]


Leslie Bais as Anna
Caelum Vatnsdal as Osip
Shaun Balbar as Nikolai
Greg Klymkiw as Akmatov

Awards and nominationsEdit

Genie Award:

  • Win: Best Short

Aspen Shortsfest:

  • Win: Best Cinematography

Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film:

  • Win: Special Mention – Short Film

Miami Film Festival:

  • Win: FIPRESCI Prize, Best Short Subject

National Society of Film Critics Awards

  • Win: Best Experimental Film—the same award Maddin won in 1991 for Archangel.[2]

San Francisco International Film Festival

  • Win: Film & Video – Short Narrative, Golden Gate Award – Guy Maddin


  1. ^ Vatnsdal, Caelum. Kino Delirium: The Films of Guy Maddin. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2000. Print. ISBN 1-894037-11-1
  2. ^ a b "Guy Maddin: Imagining 'entirely original worlds'". Canada Council for the Arts. Archived from the original on 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
  3. ^ The Guy Maddin Collection. Dir. Guy Maddin. Zeitgeist Video, 2002. DVD.

External linksEdit