The Heart of Madame Sabali

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    The Heart of Madame Sabali

    Le Cœur de Madame Sabali

    Directed by



    79 min

    • French


    THE HEART OF MADAME SABALI is a dramatic film with touches of absurdist comedy, and features surrealist dream sequences and a colourful art design. The story is centered on Jeannette, who has a severe heart condition that keeps her trapped in a suburb of Montreal. After receiving her new heart, Jeannette begins to have strange visions of her donor's former life. Soon after, she is befriended by her donor's son, a Malian teenager, who believes she is his mother reincarnated. The story itself is based on the scientific concept of cellular memory, the idea that cells contain memories, and that organ recipients sometimes take on the personality traits of their donors.


    • Focus Grand Prize - FNC Montréal


    Labels & Line Ups


    Paul Ahmarani
    Marie Brassard
    Francis La Haye
    Hugo Giroux
    Anik Vermette
    Mireille Metellus
    Phyllis Gooden
    Becca Blackwood
    Ryan McKenna
    Ian Lagarde
    Ryan McKenna
    Tyler Fitzmaurice
    Matthew Otto
    Andres Vial


    A remarkable film.

    Shane Scott-Travis, Taste of Cinema

    A gorgeously stylized, wryly comic drama.

    Alissa Simon, Variety

    Ryan McKenna

    Ryan McKenna


    What I personally find most interesting is simultaneously exploring the humor and sadness of a situation. My sound mixer likes to say of my films: “It’s not not funny.

    Ryan McKenna is based out of Montreal, Canada. He was born in the francophone city of Saint Boniface, and studied history at the University of Winnipeg. His films include the award winning shorts BON VOYAGE (2009), CHINATOWN (2009), and CONTROVERSIES (2014). His debut feature THE FIRST WINTER (2012), sparked the Brutalist Manifesto, which includes a strict rule about including at least one (unfaked) blizzard – a true test of Canadian courage. THE HEART OF MADAME SABALI (2015) is McKenna’s second feature, awarded the Festival du Nouveau Cinema’s Grand Focus Prize.

    Selected Filmography