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The Saddest Music in the World
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The Saddest Music in the World (2003) More at IMDbPro »

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The Saddest Music in the World -- Isabella Rossellini is the owner of a brewery that sponsors a competition to find the saddest music on Earth. As musicians vie for the $25,000 prize, the world listens in on the radio.
The Saddest Music in the World -- A sort-of musical set in Winnipeg during the Great Depression, where a beer baroness organizes a contest to find the saddest music in the world. Musicians from around the world descend on the city to try and win first place - a $25,000 prize.
The Saddest Music in the World -- Isabella Rosellini stars as a woman who announces a competition to determine the saddest music on earth. As musicians vie for the $25,000 prize, the world listens in on the radio.


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Up 21% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Kazuo Ishiguro (original screenplay)
George Toles (written by) ...
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Release Date:
12 May 2005 (Portugal) See more »
"If you're sad, and like beer, I'm your lady."
A musical of sorts set in Winnipeg during the Great Depression, where a beer baroness organizes a contest to find the saddest music in the world. Musicians from around the world descend on the city to try and win the $25,000 prize. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
7 wins & 6 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
one of a kind: a romantic comedy about the darkest and most tragic things known to man + beer and music See more (92 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Mark McKinney ... Chester Kent

Isabella Rossellini ... Lady Helen Port-Huntley

Maria de Medeiros ... Narcissa
David Fox ... Fyodor Kent
Ross McMillan ... Roderick Kent / Gravillo the Great
Louis Negin ... Blind Seer

Darcy Fehr ... Teddy

Claude Dorge ... Duncan Elksworth
Talia Pura ... Mary
Jeff Sutton ... Young Chester
Graeme Valentin ... Young Roderick
Maggie Nagle ... Chester's Mother
Victor Cowie ... Man in Bar
Jessica Burleson ... Lady's Secretary

Wayne Nicklas ... Boardmember
Nancy Drake ... American Mother
David Gillies ... American Father
Daphne Korol ... Widow

Adriana O'Neil ... Agnes
Jeff Skinner ... Reverend
Craig Aftanas ... Old Sleepwalker
Miles Boisselle ... Guard (as Miles Boiselle)
Brock MacGregor ... Roderick's Son
Daniel Hawkins ... Amputee Double
Emile Bisseck ... Africa - Zani Drummer
Marol Jal ... Africa - Zani Drummer
Binasio Wani ... Africa - Zani Drummer
Joshua Stanton ... India - Manochar - Sitar
Sharmela Parboji ... India - Manochar
Alan Parboji ... India - Manochar
Nalini Reddy ... India - Manochar
Veena Goel ... India - Manochar
Aasttha Khajuria ... India - Manochar
Mohyna Dookun ... India - Manochar
Lena Shah ... India - Manochar
Shyamala Dakshinamurti ... India - Manochar
Usha Sharma ... India - Manochar
Sunayana Gupta ... India - Manochar
Jesus Paz Sr. ... Mexico - Mini Mariachi
Jesus Paz Jr. ... Mexico - Mini Mariachi
Isaac Paz ... Mexico - Mini Mariachi
David Paz ... Mexico - Mini Mariachi
Johanna Paz ... Mexico - Mini Mariachi
Richard Escaffi ... Mexico - Mini Mariachi
Daron Baxter ... Scotland - Winnipeg - Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band
Crystal Hay ... Scotland - Winnipeg - Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band
Gail Hay ... Scotland - Winnipeg - Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band
Gwen Court ... Scotland - Winnipeg - Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band
Sara Leclair ... Scotland - Winnipeg - Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band
Diane Leclair ... Scotland - Winnipeg - Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band
Shona Munroe ... Scotland - Winnipeg - Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band
Catherine Russell ... Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band
Shannon Baxter ... Scotland - Winnipeg - Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band
Jessica Locke ... Scotland - Winnipeg - Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band
Corie Johnston ... Scotland - Winnipeg - Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band
Shawna Turner ... Scotland - Winnipeg - Heather-Belle Ladies Pipe Band
Xiao Nan Wang ... Siam Musician (as Xio Nan Wang)
Claire Marchand ... Spain - Flamenco Ensemble
Jim Shewchuk ... Spain - Flamenco Ensemble
Sheila Ghosh ... Spain - Flamenco Ensemble
Other Members of the Winnipeg Folk Arts Group ... Other Musicians
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Erik J. Berg ... Orphan (uncredited)

Matthew J. Kok ... Boy #3 (uncredited)

Arthur MacKinnon ... Extra (uncredited)

Adam McCort ... Dustbowl Farmer (uncredited)

Brent Neale ... Polish Pianist (uncredited)
Jessica Smith ... Orphan Girl (uncredited)
Kevin Yeboah ... African Mourner (uncredited)

Directed by
Guy Maddin 
Writing credits
Kazuo Ishiguro (original screenplay)

George Toles (written by) &
Guy Maddin (written by)

Produced by
Atom Egoyan .... executive producer
Niv Fichman .... producer
Daniel Iron .... executive producer
Phyllis Laing .... co-producer
Sheena Macdonald .... co-producer: Rhombus Media
Jody Shapiro .... producer
Barbara Willis Sweete .... associate producer: Rhombus Media
Larry Weinstein .... associate producer: Rhombus Media
Original Music by
Christopher Dedrick 
Cinematography by
Luc Montpellier (director of photography)
Film Editing by
David Wharnsby 
Casting by
John Buchan 
Production Design by
Matthew Davies 
Art Direction by
Réjean Labrie  (as Rejean Labrie)
Set Decoration by
Stephen Arndt 
Costume Design by
Meg McMillan 
Makeup Department
Beverly A. Hamilton .... daily hair stylist
Frances Hans .... daily makeup artist
Ediena Hawkes .... first assistant hair stylist
Amanda Kuryk .... daily makeup artist
Jennifer Machnee .... first assistant makeup artist
Brenda Magalas .... makeup intern: FTM
Doug Morrow .... key makeup artist
Barry Olafson .... key hair stylist
Catherina Saites .... daily hair stylist (as Catharina Saites)
Production Management
Matt Cahill .... post-production supervisor
Anastasia Geras .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Danielle Dumesnil .... second assistant director
Richard O'Brien-Moran .... first assistant director
Michael Peleshok .... third assistant director (as Mike Peleshok)
Art Department
Ricardo Alms .... lead carpenter
Aaron Anderson .... set dresser
Billy Baker .... paint foreman (as William Baker)
Gary Barringer .... video graphic coordinator
Lindsey Bart .... daily greens
Ryan Berzuk .... assistant props master (as Ryan 'Speedy' Berzuk)
Lloyd Brandson .... key scenic artist
Jim Campbell .... carpenter
Shawna Conner .... art department trainee
Greg Gardner .... graphics
Jason Gibbs .... set dresser
Catherine Green .... daily draftsperson
Charles Gustafson .... scenic painter
Matthew Holm .... on-set dresser
Scott Hopper .... assistant carpenter
Simon Hughes .... scenic painter
Michael Jansen .... scenic carpenter (as Mike Jansen)
Michael Jurkow .... daily carpenter
Debbie Kuzina .... sets buyer
Paul Lukeman .... daily props builder
Steve Madden .... daily lead carpenter
Ron Makwich .... laborer
Dave Meek .... daily carpenter
Alison Nutt .... daily carpenter
Gord Peterson .... assistant art director (as Gordon Peterson)
Brent Poole .... daily carpenter
David Potter .... scenic carpenter
Robert Potter .... laborer
Sab Schiavone .... daily carpenter
Bill Sinosich .... scenic carpenter
Craig Skene .... daily carpentry rigger
Brian Smith .... construction coordinator
Chris Sol .... head carpenter
Mark Sol .... laborer
Laura Souter .... daily props
Larry Spittle .... props master
Mark Stratton .... props buyer
David Tomsett .... daily carpenter (as David J. Tomsett Jr.)
Lawrence Van Went .... scenic artist (as Lawrence van Went)
Remi Verfaillie .... lead dresser (as Remi Verfaille)
Andrea Von Wichert .... scenic painter (as Andrea von Wichert)
Burkhard Weiss .... scenic carpenter
William Whiteheas .... laborer
Robert Williams .... carpenter
Lawrence Zglobicki .... daily painter
Greg Zielinski .... laborer
Sound Department
Don Baker .... playback operator
Eliot Crackower .... assistant re-recording mixer
Russ Dyck .... sound
Matthew Friesen .... sound intern: FTM
Ronayne Higginson .... dialogue & adr editor
Darcy Kite .... adr recordist
Steve Kostick .... assistant dialogue editor
Martin Lee .... sound re-recording mixer
Sid Lieberman .... foley artist
Kirk Lynds .... foley recordist
John MacDonald .... assistant foley artist
Stan Mak .... boom operator
David McCallum .... sound
David McCallum .... supervising sound editor
David Rose .... sound designer
David Rose .... sound
Mark Shnuriwsky .... sound effects editor
Lou Solakofski .... sound re-recording mixer
Lou Solakofski .... sound
Alan Tang .... assistant sound effects editor
David Yonson .... adr recordist
Matthew Friesen .... cable puller (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Mark Gebel .... special effects
Don Greenberg .... first assistant special effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Dominique Balcaen .... additional camera operator
François Balcaen .... key grip (as Francois Balcaen)
Ryan Beresford .... daily electrician
John Clarke .... first electrician
Greg Crawford .... grip
Gabriel Daniels .... grip intern: FTM
Michael Drabot .... gaffer
David Fox .... additional camera operator
Marc Gagnon .... electrician
Gisèle Gordon .... additional rearscreen photographer
Ruben Guzman .... photographer: Super 8
Casey Harrison .... daily camera trainee (as JJ Casey Harrison)
Jason Heke .... additional camera operator
Jason Heke .... camera trainee
Joao Holowka .... daily electrician
Scott Jaworski .... electric trainee
Darren Lannoo .... grip
Guy Maddin .... additional camera operator
Mark McKinney .... additional camera operator
Ross McMillan .... additional camera operator
Christophe Nachtigall .... grip
Richard O'Brien-Moran .... additional camera operator
Michael Peleshok .... additional camera operator (as Mike Peleshok)
Diyah Pera .... still photographer
Len Peterson .... additional camera operator
Len Peterson .... first assistant camera
Nicolas Phillips .... electric
Peter Rohde .... still photographer
Rob Rowan .... assistant chief lighting technician (as Robert A. Rowan)
Jody Shapiro .... additional camera operator
Larry Spittle .... additional camera operator
Terry Thiessen .... grip
Robert Thomson .... grip (as Rob Thomson)
Shauna Townley .... additional camera operator
Shauna Townley .... second assistant camera
Roger Wiebe .... grip
Animation Department
Gary Barringer .... animator (uncredited)
Casting Department
Jim Heber .... casting: Winnipeg
Kari Rieger .... extras casting (as Kari Reiger)
Eleanor Erum .... extras casting assistant (uncredited)
Jonathan Payne .... casting assistant (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Alison Bile .... costume intern: FTM
Carolyn Bradshaw .... truck costumer
Paula Dunfield .... costume supervisor
Nadine Falk .... daily wardrobe
Dallas Hollett .... daily wardrobe
Karen Kristalovich .... daily wardrobe
Jennie O'Keefe .... daily wardrobe
Sian Morris Ross .... assistant costume designer
Sandra Soke .... daily wardrobe
Editorial Department
John Furniotis .... video to film transfer: Film Effects Inc.
Brian Karn .... on-line editor
Peter Korsitzke .... film timer
Michael Thibodeau .... dailies/video correction (as Mike Thibodeau)
Branko Vasovic .... assistant editor
Music Department
Don Benedictson .... music recordist: Winnipeg musicians
Brenda Blake .... music supervisor
Roman Borys .... musician: cello soloist, The Canadian Film Orchestra
The Canadian Film Orchestra .... performers
Christopher Dedrick .... conductor
Christopher Dedrick .... musician: trumpet, The Muskeg Combo
Christopher Dedrick .... orchestrator
Vern Dorg .... musician: clarinet, The Muskeg Combo
Sonia Eng .... musician: harp, The Muskeg Combo
Gary Gray .... score mixer
Gary Gray .... score recordist
Erin Hershberg .... music coordinator
Craig Mann .... source music editor
The Muskeg Combo .... performers
Rebecca Pellett .... music editor
Rebecca Pellett .... music preparation
Rebecca Pellett .... score recordist
Bruce Philp .... musician: drums, The Muskeg Combo
Mark Skazinetsky .... concertmaster: The Canadian Film Orchestra
Lenny Solomon .... musician: violin, The Muskeg Combo
Robert Stewart .... assistant music recordist: Winnipeg musicians
Tom Szczesniak .... musician: piano, The Muskeg Combo
David Young .... musician: bass, The Muskeg Combo
Jack Zaza .... musician: mandolin, The Muskeg Combo
Velma Barkwell .... executive producer: soundtrack album (uncredited)
Dustin Harris .... assistant music mixer (uncredited)
Dustin Harris .... assistant music recordist (uncredited)
Transportation Department
James Alexander .... driver
Boris Danyliuk .... driver
Jim DeVilger .... driver (as James de Vlieger)
Isaac Friesen .... driver
Marlow .... driver: cast (as Greg Marlow)
Dave Perich .... driver (as David Perich)
Martin Samoiloff .... driver
Garry 'Diesel' Trosky .... transportation coordinator (as Gary 'Diesel' Trosky)
Ralph Walker .... driver captain (as D. Ralph Walker)
Other crew
Lorne J. Allen .... location production assistant
Sarah Baird .... distribution executive: Rhombus Media
Dean Batiuk .... location production assistant
Brenda Blake .... legal affairs: Rhombus Media
Miye Bromberg .... location production assistant
Jason Campbell .... location production assistant (as Jason Lloyd Campbell)
Tyson Caron .... production assistant: Buffalo Gal Pictures
Shane Clements .... location production assistant
Sofia Costantini .... choreographer
Lisa Craik .... first accounting assistant
Sarah Jane Cundell .... key location production coordinator
Denys Curle .... key craft service
Colette Desjardins .... production accountant
Kelly Ditz .... assistant craft service
Anne Dollack .... production assistant: Rhombus Media
Jean Du Toit .... tax credit administrator: Buffalo Gal Pictures
Martin Ellis .... location production assistant
Robert Enright .... diarist
Sheree Fondeur .... set production assistant (as Sheree Betker)
Kerry Fraser .... publicist: Buffalo Gal Pictures
Melanie Dawn Fuerst .... location production assistant
Eileen Gano .... second accounting assistant
Jason Glesby .... watchperson
Russell T. Glesby .... daily security
Wayne Glesby .... head of security
L. Christian Goulet .... location production assistant
Ruben Guzman .... creative consultant
Chris Hawkins .... location production assistant
Philippa King .... business affairs: Rhombus Media
Vince Krochak .... location production assistant
Christie Kucera-Evenson .... office production assistant (as Christie Kucera)
Rick Kuchar .... sous chef
Sara Lazer .... business affairs: Buffalo Gal Pictures
Lyn E.A. Marlowe .... daily craft service
Wayne Marr .... watchperson
Kelly McKaig .... production office intern: FTM
Kimberly Mikoluff .... production coordinator
Alanna Mills .... script supervisor
Bernard Narvey .... location manager
Jo Ann Oldcorn .... first accounting intern: FTM
Antony Papetti .... location production assistant
Linda Pope .... bookkeeper: Rhombus Media
Brent Prockert .... chef
Sean Scoffield .... title designer
Blair Scott .... location production assistant
Leslie Stafford .... publicist
Suzanne Stefanovic .... production assistant: Rhombus Media
Cliff Sumter .... assistant location manager
Caelum Vatnsdal .... publicity notes
Jennifer Weiss .... production associate: Rhombus Media
Colleen Wowchuk .... assistant production coordinator
Cynthia Amsden .... publicist (uncredited)
Shelly Bancroft .... special thanks
Wayne Binder .... special thanks
Daniel Blaufuks .... special thanks
Diane Boehme .... special thanks
Judy Daish .... special thanks
James Di Salvio .... special thanks
Noam Gonick .... special thanks
Gisèle Gordon .... special thanks
Ian Handford .... special thanks
John Harvie .... special thanks
Erin Hershberg .... special thanks
Wendy MacKeigan .... special thanks
Michelle Marion .... special thanks
Don McKellar .... special thanks
Laura Michalchyshyn .... special thanks
Graham Stewart .... special thanks
Carole Vivier .... special thanks
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for some sexuality and violent images
100 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Director Cameo: [Guy Maddin]the hand amputating Lady Port-Huntley's legs.See more »
Chester Kent:I just rented a warehouse. I got people lined up to build sets, make costumes. I got musicians, arrangers. But I gotta put out first, or they'll shut me down.
Narcissa:Maybe you should keep it simple.
Chester Kent:America goes simple? That's a hot one. No, it's gotta be vulgar and obvious, full of gimmicks. You know, sadness, but with sass and pizzazz.
See more »
Dulce AdiosSee more »


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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful.
one of a kind: a romantic comedy about the darkest and most tragic things known to man + beer and music, 19 December 2008
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

Guy Maddin is a master in at least one respect: he knows how to use 8mm film. Very few filmmakers attempt to use it at the length he does, or to such seemingly limitless invention, and all the while he has in mind an aesthetic somewhere in the middle of an expressionist silent film director and someone looking to break a little ground with a music video. In fact two of his films specifically, Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary and Brand Upon the Brain, work better just as they appear to be: stories told in pantomime, without dialog, but also with all of the heavy emotions that come with. The Saddest Music in the World is a sound film, and must be in order to include such music and some occasionally really funny dialog. But its aesthetic is so bizarre and, indeed, eclectic to tastes of modern and pre-WW2 cinema that it has to be seen and heard to be believed.

The premise is that a "Lady" in Winnepeg (Rossellini) is hosting a contest for everyone around the world to come to Winnipeg to sing the saddest songs known anywhere, and the winner will receive 25 grand (in "Depression-Era" money). But there are complications- a devilish entrepreneur (Mark McKinney in a sly and convincing dramatic performance) comes into town to bring back old memories- the legs that Rossellini no longer has due to a horrible accident stacked upon a huge blunder by McKinney's father- and there's other troubles in romantic entanglements (i.e. McKinney's brother sees that Narcissa, played by Medeiros, is with him now and may have a talking tapeworm). There's this and more, plus the brothers' father in his attempt to resolve the situation with glass legs full of, yes, beer, plus the various competitions between countries with their own styles and vibrations and sorrowful melodies (there's even "Africa" at one point).

But a lot of this is, in fact, really crazy. So crazy that it takes a guy as smart and dedicated to his own warped craft like Maddin to make it make any kind of sense. But it does make sense, beautiful sense at times, and it's helped a lot out by the striking acting and the sense of morbid comedy that pops up from time to time (even just the announcers, who have that depression-era sensibility to them are funny). And watching the quixotic montage, the dazzling camera angles that sometimes go by in blinks or feverish moments in the midst of despair, make it all the more worthwhile. If I might not recommend it as overwhelmingly as Brand Upon the Brain it's only for a lesser connection emotionally with the material, of being pulled in inexorably to its conclusion. Nevertheless no one who wants to miss a challenge, take on something just this side of insanity and poetry, owes it to watch this- experience the songs, the romance. 8.5/10

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