Denis Villeneuve's Polytechnique, about a lone gunman's 1989 massacre of 14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique, swept the Genie Awards, Canada's Oscars, on Monday night at Toronto's Guvernment/Kool Haus Entertainment complex.
Shot in black and white and with sparse use of dialogue, Polytechnique won nine of its 11 nominations: Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress (Karine Vanasse), Best Supporting Actor (Maxim Gaudette, who plays mass murderer Marc Lépine), Best Original Screenplay (Jacques Davidts), Best Cinematography (Pierre Gill), Best Editing (Richard Comeau), Best Sound and Best Sound Editing.
According to Peter Howell in the Toronto Star, the controversial production “was kept under tight security to avoid protests or other disruptions.” Although Polytechnique grossed “a respectable” $1.8 million in Quebec, it earned a mere $100,000 elsewhere in Canada.
Karine Vanasse cried while accepting her award, dedicating it to the memory of Lépine's victims. According to filmmaker Villeneuve, Vanasse and producer Don Carmody were the ones who pushed him into making the film.
Among the other Genie winners were Fifty Dead Men Walking, about the Irish Troubles, which was given Genies for Best Adapted Screenplay (for writer/director Kari Skogland) and Best Production Design (Eve Stewart).
Joshua Jackson was chosen as the Best Actor for Michael McGowan's One Week, a drama (definitely not a comedy as previously posted) about a man's cross-country motorcycle ride while in search of meaning for his life. Jackson's remark upon accepting his trophy was: “I can't believe I won something!”
At the other extreme, Xavier Dolan probably can't believe he won nothing. Or almost.
As previously reported, Dolan's acclaimed J'ai tué ma mère / I Killed My Mother - winner of three of Quebec's Jutra Awards two weeks ago, including Best Picture (Polytechnique had also been in the running) - was totally shut out of the Genies' competitive categories.
At the Genies, writer-director-actor Dolan had to content himself with a special Claude Jutra Award for best first feature. Dolan was not present at the ceremony. Kevin Tierney, vice-chairman of cinema for the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, accepted the award on Dolan's behalf.
Backstage, Tierney told journalists (as found at indieWIRE):
“Between you and me, this was an aberration. To be ignored and shut out in all the other categories… It's an aberration.
“Anne Dorval [as the mother “killed” by gay son Dolan] gives one of the best performances I've ever seen in Canadian history.
“I think - to be perfectly frank - that [Dolan] was very ambiguous because this award… The fact that he only got this award was sort of like - my reading was - like being sent to the kiddie table. I mean, seriously… There's something quite preposterous about it.”
At the ceremony, Best Supporting Actress Martha Burns Genie winner (for playing a nun in Love & Savagery) asked, “J'ai tué ma mère - why isn't that in every category? … It's too bad we don't have a more fun, sexier way of showing the world that our films are getting better and more original and bright. … Let's stop boring each other.”
According to the Toronto Globe and Mail, Canadian films accounted for only $26 million of the $1 billion or so generated at the country's box office. (Quebec's films tend to do much better regionally, though not countrywide.)
The Globe and Mail article also provides an interesting insight into the workings of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. In fact, Canadian Academy film-selection set-up reminds me of the Hollywood Academy and its byzantine practices regarding foreign-language films.
The top Genie 2010 nominees were announced by Away from Her star Gordon Pinsent and Sundance 2010 Special Jury Prize winner Tatiana Maslany. They are Denis Villeneuve's 2010 Toronto Film Critics' winner Polytechnique (11 nominations), Charles Officer's Nurse.Fighter.Boy (ten nominations), Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu's Before Tomorrow (nine), Patrice Sauvé's Grande Ourse: La clé des possibles / The Master Key (eight), and Kari Skogland's Fifty Dead Men Walking (seven).
With the exception of The Master Key, all of the aforementioned titles are in the running for Best Film.
“I'm an emotional guy,” Charles Officer explained after whoops of joy were followed by profuse tears when he learned that Nurse.Fighter.Boy had received ten nods. “The film itself was an emotional journey for the characters. If you're a part of that film, it has to be coming from somewhere, which is myself.”
Heavy drama dominated the Genies: The black-and-white Polytechnique, made in both French and English, chronicles the events that led to the massacre of 14 female students in Montreal in 1989; Before Tomorrow features an ill-fated Inuit hunting trip in the mid-19th century; Nurse.Fighter.Boy is a gritty urban drama about a former boxer who becomes attached to a nurse and her son; and the Irish Troubles are the focus of Fifty Dead Men Walking.
Jim Donovan's 3 Saisons, featuring several intertwined stories a la Babel, is the other Best Film nominee. It's also the only one in that group without a matching Best Director nod. Instead, Bruce McDonald was shortlisted for the horror thriller Pontypool.
Atom Egoyan's Adoration received only two nominations, for screenwriting and for best supporting actor Scott Speedman. De Pére en Flic, winner of the Golden Reel Award given to the most successful Canadian film of the year, is up for three Genies: best original screenplay, and best supporting actors Patrick Drolet and Rémy Girard.
“This year's nominations reflect a national cinema that is courageous in its storytelling,” said Sara Morton, CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, referring to this year's nominees for the 2010 Genie Awards, the Canadian Oscars. “They are films created from the wealth of cultures, communities, and historical moments that make up the Canadian identity. As the Genie Awards celebrate its 30th anniversary, these nominees will remind us of why it is as important as ever to celebrate and cherish the best of Canadian film.”
One who probably doesn't feel like either celebrating or cherishing is 20-year-old filmmaker Xavier Dolan, whose I Killed My Mother, Canada's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, was snubbed by the Academy of Canadian Cinema. And not just snubbed for Best Film and Best Director – this story of a gay teen and his warped relationship with his mother, despite three wins at Cannes, successful festival screenings, and numerous good reviews especially for its female star, Anne Dorval, received a total of zero nominations. (The Hollywood Academy also failed to include it among the year's foreign-language nominees.)
As a sort of consolation prize, Xavier Dolan will be getting the Genies' non-competitive Claude Jutra Award given to an outstanding first-time filmmaker. Additionally, Dolan's film is up for five Prix Jutra, Quebec's own Oscars.
When asked about the I Killed My Mother snub at the Genies, Sara Morton replied: “It definitely was considered in all the categories. There is a significant difference between a film that does well on the festival circuit and one which is in a competition against other films. I don't think you can generalize from festival success to Genie success.”
Unlike the Hollywood Academy, which allows members to vote on the nominees of their particular branches, the Genies' nominating jury is composed of film professionals, movie critics and journalists.
Quote: Globe and Mail
Photo: I Killed My Mother (Regent Releasing)
The 30th Genie Awards will take place Monday, April 12 at Toronto's Kool Haus Entertainment Complex, a live entertainment venue located on the city's waterfront.
Quote: Toronto Star
Photo: Polytechnique (Alliance Films); Before Tomorrow (Igloolik Isuma Productions); Fifty Dead Men Walking (HandMade Films)
The 30th Genie Awards will take place Monday, April 12 at Toronto's Guvernment / Kool Haus Entertainment Complex.
BEST MOTION PICTURE
3 saisons - Maude Bouchard, Jim Donovan, Sandy Martinez, Bruno Rosato
Before Tomorrow - Stephane Rituit
Fifty Dead Men Walking - Shawn Williamson, Stephen Hegyes, Peter La Terriere, Kari Skogland
Nurse.Fighter.Boy - Ingrid Veninger
Polytechnique - Maxime Remillard, Don Carmody
BEST FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY
A Hard Name - Kristina McLaughlin, Michael McMahon, Alan Zweig
Les Dames En Bleu / Ladies In Blue - Claude Demers
Inside Hana's Suitcase - Larry Weinstein, Rudolf Biermann, Jessica Daniel
Prom Night In Mississippi - Patricia Aquino, Paul Saltzman
Rip: A Remix Manifesto - Mila Aung-Thwin, Kat Baulu, Brett Gaylor, Germaine Ying-Gee Wong
ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTION
Marie-Helene Cousineau, Madeline Piujuq Ivalu - Before Tomorrow
Kari Skogland - Fifty Dead Men Walking
Charles Officer - Nurse.Fighter.Boy
Denis Villeneuve - Polytechnique
Bruce McDonald - Pontypool
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Jean-Carl Boucher - 1981
Paul Dylan Ivalu - Before Tomorrow
Joshua Jackson - One Week
Clark Johnson - Nurse.Fighter.Boy
Stephen McHattie - Pontypool
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Madeline Piujuq Ivalu - Before Tomorrow
Karen Leblanc - Nurse.Fighter.Boy
Carinne Leduc - 3 Saisons
Gabrielle Rose - Mothers&Daughters
Karine Vanasse - Polytechnique
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Patrick Drolet - De pere en flic / Father and Guns
John Dunsworth - Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day
Maxim Gaudette - Polytechnique
Remy Girard - De pere en flic / Father and Guns
Scott Speedman - Adoration
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Liane Balaban - One Week
Marie Brassard - Les grandes chaleurs / Heat Wave
Martha Burns - Love & Savagery
Isabel Richer - Babine
Sonia Vachon - 5150, rue des Ormes / 5150 Elm's Way
Atom Egoyan - Adoration
Emile Gaudreault, Ian Lauzon - De pere en flic / Father and Guns
Charles Officer, Ingrid Veninger - Nurse.Fighter.Boy
Jacques Davidts - Polytechnique
David Bezmozgis - Victoria Day
Marie-Helene Cousineau, Susan Avingaq, Madeline Piujuq Ivalu - Before Tomorrow
Kari Skogland - Fifty Dead Men Walking
Tony Burgess - Pontypool
ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Steve Cosens - Nurse.Fighter.Boy
Jonathan Freeman - Fifty Dead Men Walking
Pierre Gill - Polytechnique
Ronald Plante - Grande ourse: La cle des possibles / The Master Key
Allen Smith - Les doigts croches / Sticky Fingers
ACHIEVEMENT IN EDITING
Alain Baril - 5150, rue des Ormes / 5150 Elm's Way
Richard Comeau - Polytechnique
Francois Normandin, Jim Donovan - 3 Saisons
Michel Grou - Grande ourse: La cle des possibles / The Master Key
Jim Munro - Fifty Dead Men Walking
ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC - ORIGINAL SCORE
Benoit Charest - Polytechnique
Bertrand Chenier - Love & Savagery
Christian Clermont - 5150, rue des Ormes / 5150 Elm's Way
Normand Corbeil - Grande ourse: La cle des possibles / The Master Key
Ben Mink - Fifty Dead Men Walking
ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC - ORIGINAL SONG
Susan Avingaq - Before Tomorrow - Pamani
John Welsman, Cherie Camp - Nurse.Fighter.Boy - Oh Love
Sari Dajani, Iohann Martin, Rudy Toussaint, John Von Aichlinger - Les grandes chaleurs / Heat Wave - Bon Swa
ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION, PRODUCTION DESIGN
Diana Abbatangelo - Nurse.Fighter.Boy
Susan Avingaq - Before Tomorrow
Jean Babin - Grande ourse: La cle des possibles / The Master Key
Eve Stewart - Fifty Dead Men Walking
Patrice Vermette - 1981
ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
Atuat Akittirq - Before Tomorrow
Carmen Alie - Grande ourse: La cle des possibles / The Master Key
Sarah Armstrong - Nurse.Fighter.Boy
Brenda Broer - Cairo Time
Anne-Karine Gauthier - 1981
ACHIEVEMENT IN OVERALL SOUND
Mario Auclair, Daniel Bisson, Luc Boudrias, Jean-Charles Desjardins - Grande ourse: La cle des possibles / The Master Key
Stephane Bergeron, Pierre Blain, Jo Caron, Benoit Leduc - Polytechnique
Claude Hazanavicius, Daniel Bisson, Jean-Charles Desjardins, Bernard Gariepy Strobl - Love & Savagery
Richard Lavoie, Arnaud Derimay, Jean-Charles Desjardins, Bernard Gariepy Strobl - Before Tomorrow
Simon Goulet, Bernard Gariepy Strobl - 5150, rue des Ormes / 5150 Elm's Way
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
Pierre-Jules Audet, Michelle Cloutier, Jacques Plante, Jean-Francois Sauve - Grande ourse: La cle des possibles / The Master Key
Mathieu Beaudin, Jacques Plante - 5150, rue des Ormes / 5150 Elm's Way
Claude Beaugrand, Guy Francoeur, Carole Gagnon, Christian Rivest - Polytechnique
Garrett Kerr, Fred Brennan, Paul Germann, Steve Hammond, Mishann Lau - Nurse.Fighter.Boy
Olivier Calvert, Natalie Fleurant, Francine Poirier, Lise Wedlock - Babine
ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKE-UP
Djina Caron, Martin Rivest - Polytechnique
Djina Caron - Grande ourse: La cle des possibles / The Master Key
Diane Simard, Rejean Goderre - Love & Savagery
Micheline Trepanier, Linda Gordon - 1981
Robbi O'quinn, Leanne Morrison-Freed - You Might As Well Live
BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY
The Delian Mode - Kara Blake, Marie-Josee Saint-Pierre
Passages - Marie-Josee Saint-Pierre
Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives On The Alberta Tar Sands - Peter Mettler, Sandy Hunter, Laura Severinac
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT DRAMA
Danse Macabre - Pedro Pires, Catherine Chagnon
Gilles - Constant Mentzas
Princess Margaret Blvd. - Dan Montgomery, Kazik Radwanski
Terre Des Hommes / Land Of Men - Ky Nam Le Duc
La Vie Commence / Life Begins - Elaine Hebert, Emile Proulx-Cloutier
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Runaway / Train En Folie - Derek Mazur, Cordell Barker, Michael Scott
The Spine / L'echine - Steven Hoban, Chris Landreth, Marcy Page
Vive La Rose - Michael Fukushima, Bruce Alcock, Annette Clarke, Tina Ouellette
Xavier Dolan's I Killed My Mother / J'ai tué ma mère may have fared quite poorly at Canada's Genie Awards – it was totally shut out of the competitive categories – and at the Oscars, having lost out on a Best Foreign Language Film nomination. At the 2010 Prix Jutra ceremony, however, Dolan's comedy-drama about a gay son and his mother received top honors, taking home the Prix Jutra for best film of 2009 on Wednesday, March 31.
Additionally, I Killed My Mother earned Dolan the Best Screenplay Award and Anne Dorval the Best Actress Jutra. The film was also voted the most popular local production outside Quebec's borders.
Denis Villeneuve was chosen the Best Director for Polytechnique, the story of the 1989 Montreal massacre of several female engineering students. As the mass murderer, Maxim Gaudette won the Best Supporting Actor Jutra. Polytechnique, in fact, received the highest number of awards: five in all.
Sébastien Ricard was voted Best Actor for Dédé à travers les brumes / Dédé Through the Shadows, a biopic of Quebecois composer-singer André Fortin, who died – officially a suicide – at the age of 37 in 2000.
The Best Supporting Actress was Sandrine Bisson for 1981.
'Avatar' Wins Six Visual Effects Awards
James Cameron's 3D sci-fi epic Avatar won six Visual Effects Society Awards on Sunday. Among those was the top VES Award for visual effects in a visual effects-driven feature. Avatar's competition was District 9, Star Trek, 2012, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
This weekend, Avatar broke another box office record as it became the first movie ever to earn more than $700 million at the North American box office. Avatar stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Laz Alonso, Joel David Moore, Michelle Rodriguez, CCH Pounder, and Giovanni Ribisi.
Pete Docter's Up, a Disney/Pixar release that is the favorite for this year's Best Animated Feature Oscar, won three awards, including outstanding animation.
Other feature film winners were District 9, for outstanding compositing, and Sherlock Holmes, for supporting visual effects.
Photo: Avatar (WETA / 20th Century Fox)
I Killed My Mother (Regent Releasing)
Photo: Polytechnique (Alliance Films); One Week (IFC Films)