Genie Awards: World War I Drama Wins Best Picture

by Alt Film Guide

Genie Awards: World War I drama 'Passchendaele' wins Best Picture

In a bizarre twist, the Canadian Academy of Film & Television (website) chose Passchendaele, Paul Gross' flag-waving World War I melodrama about Canadian valor, as the best Canadian film of 2008. I say bizarre because even though Passchendaele was in the running for a best film Genie Award, neither its screenplay nor (writer-)director Gross had even been nominated (though Gross, who didn't attend the ceremony as he was filming in Los Angeles, managed to get a Best Actor nod).

Passchendaele won five other awards: best art direction, costume design, sound, sound editing, and a special prize for the most (financially) successful Canadian film of the year.

Passchendaele has been hailed by some as a Canadian blockbuster to rival Hollywood productions, but detractors assert that though perhaps as big and loud as some Hollywood movies, Passchendaele is also just as shallow and simple-minded. (Paulitics offers an interesting commentary on both the film and the reactions to it by some in the Canadian press.)

With 8 nominations, including best picture, best direction (Benoît Pilon), best actor (Natar Ungalaaq), and best original screenplay (Bernard Émond), The Necessities of Life was the favorite to dominate the 2009 Genies. It ended up with four awards, including best director, original screenplay, actor, and editing (Richard Comeau).

Summing it up, enough members of the Canadian Academy decided that the best written and best directed film of the year wasn't as good as a box office hit that failed to even be nominated for its direction or screenplay.

By the way, The Necessities of Life tells the story of a tuberculosis-suffering Inuit hunter (Ungalaaq) who is sent to a sanatorium in the Quebec City of the early 1950s. The inevitable clash of cultures worsens the hunter's condition, but a bicultural boy helps him bridge the gap between those two radically different worlds. The Necessities of Life, which won Quebec's Prix Jutra, also happened to be Canada's submission for the 2009 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.

This year, several non-Canadians were up for acting awards, including Swedish veteran Max von Sydow, Americans Susan Sarandon and Ellen Burstyn, Indian superstar Preity Zinta, and British actress Rosamund Pike. Burstyn (above) ended up winning the best actress Genie for The Stone Angel, in which she plays a proud and arrogant woman who tries to come to terms with her difficult past.

Among the other winners were best supporting actress Kristin Booth for Young People Fucking; best supporting actor Callum Keith Rennie, best known internationally for his role in the Showtime series Californication, for Normal; and Marie-Sissi Labrèche and Lyne Charlebois for their adapted screenplay for Borderline (above, which Charlebois also directed), a sexually charged drama about a young woman (Isabelle Blais) who has trouble separating love from sex.

Throughout the evening, hosted by Los Angeles-based actor Dave Foley, presenters and winners criticized the current right-wing Canadian government for its neglect – at times outright hostility – toward the Canadian film and television industry, especially the Canadian Broadcasting Company.

“Clearly a strong message was sent over the last few months to the Conservatives … that their mockery of the Canadian arts wasn't necessarily serving them well with voters,” said actress-director Sarah Polley, whose Away from Her received two Oscar nominations last year. “I think they've certainly changed the way they are talking about the arts, but their actions in terms of the CBC are not encouraging.”

Sarah Polley quote: Toronto's Globe and Mail

Directed by Benoît Pilon from a screenplay by Bernard Émond, The Necessities of Life tells the story of an Inuit hunter (Natar Ungalaaq) suffering from tuberculosis who is sent to a sanatorium in the Quebec City of the early 1950s. The inevitable clash of cultures worsens the hunter's condition, but a bicultural boy helps him bridge the gap between those two radically different worlds. With 8 nominations, including best picture, best direction, best actor (Ungalaaq), and best original screenplay, The Necessities of Life leads the 2009 Genies, followed by the psychological teen drama Everything is Fine with seven nods. The Necessities of Life also happened to be Canada's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Note: Several non-Canadians are up for acting awards, including Swedish veteran Max von Sydow, Americans Susan Sarandon and Ellen Burstyn, Indian superstar Preity Zinta, and British actress Rosamund Pike.

2009 Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television's Genie Award nominations: Feb. 10.

2009 Genie Award winners: Ottawa, April 4.

BEST MOTION PICTURE / MEILLEUR FILM
Amal - David Miller, Steven Bray
Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life - Bernadette Payeur, René Chénier
Normal - Andrew Boutilier, Carl Bessai
Passchendaele - Niv Fichman, Francis Damberger, Paul Gross, Frank Siracusa
Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine - Nicole Robert

BEST DOCUMENTARY / MEILLEUR DOCUMENTAIRE
INFINIMENT QUÉBEC - Jean-Claude Labrecque, Yves Fortin, Christian Medawar
MY WINNIPEG - Guy Maddin, Phyllis Laing, Jody Shapiro
UP THE YANGTZE - Yung Chang, Mila Aung-Thwin, John Christou, Germaine Ying-Gee Wong

BEST DIRECTION / MEILLEURE RÉALISATION
RICHIE MEHTA - Amal
LYNE CHARLEBOIS - Borderline
BENOIT PILON - Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life
CARL BESSAI - Normal
YVES-CHRISTIAN FOURNIER - Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE / INTERPRÉTATION MASCULINE DANS UN PREMIER RÔLE
PAUL GROSS - Passchendaele
RUPINDER NAGRA - Amal
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMEREmotional Arithmetic
AARON POOLE - This Beautiful City
NATAR UNGALAAQ - Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE / INTERPRÉTATION FÉMININE DANS UN PREMIER RÔLE
ISABELLE BLAIS - Borderline
ELLEN BURSTYN - The Stone Angel
MARIANNE FORTIER - Maman est chez le coiffeur / Mommy is at the Hairdresser's
SUSAN SARANDON - Emotional Arithmetic
PREITY ZINTA - Heaven on Earth

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE / INTERPRÉTATION MASCULINE DANS UN RÔLE DE SOUTIEN
NORMAND D'AMOURTout est Parfait / Everything is Fine
BENOIT MCGINNIS - Le Banquet
CALLUM KEITH RENNIE - Normal
RADE SHERBEDGIA - Fugitive Pieces
MAX VON SYDOW - Emotional Arithmetic

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE / INTERPRÉTATION FÉMININE DANS UN RÔLE DE SOUTIEN
CÉLINE BONNIER - Maman est chez le coiffeur / Mommy is at the Hairdresser's
KRISTIN BOOTH - Young People Fucking
EVELINE GÉLINAS - Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life
ANIE PASCALE - Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine
ROSAMUND PIKE - Fugitive Pieces

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY / MEILLEUR SCÉNARIO
BERNARD ÉMOND - Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life
DEEPA MEHTAHeaven on Earth
TRAVIS MCDONALD - Normal
RANDALL COLE - Real Time
GUILLAUME VIGNEAULT - Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY / MEILLEURE ADAPTATION
RICHIE MEHTA, SHAUN MEHTA - Amal
MARIE-SISSI LABRÈCHE, LYNE CHARLEBOIS - Borderline
JEREMY PODESWA - Fugitive Pieces

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY / MEILLEURES IMAGES
NICOLAS BOLDUC - Le Banquet
BOBBY BUKOWSKI - The Stone Angel
PIERRE GILL - Le piège américain / The American Trap
GREGORY MIDDLETON CSC - Fugitive Pieces
SARA MISHARA - Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine

BEST EDITING / MEILLEUR MONTAGE
DOMINIQUE FORTIN, CARINA BACCANALE - Le Banquet
FRÉDÉRIQUE BROOS – C'est pas moi, je le jure! / It's Not Me, I Swear!
RICHARD COMEAU - Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life
DOMINIQUE FORTIN - Maman est chez le coiffeur / Mommy is at the Hairdresser's
YVANN THIBAUDEAU - Borderline

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE / MEILLEURE MUSIQUE ORIGINALE
NORMAND CORBEIL - Emotional Arithmetic
LAURENT EYQUEM - Maman est chez le coiffeur / Mommy is at the Hairdresser's
NIKOS KYPOURGOS - Fugitive Pieces
ROBERT M. LEPAGE - Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life
JOHN MCCARTHY - The Stone Angel

BEST ORIGINAL SONG / MEILLEURE CHANSON ORIGINALE
BATLAM, BIZ, CHAFFIK - Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine - “M'Accrocher?”
DR. SHIVA - Amal - “Rahi Nagufta”
BRY WEBB - This Beautiful City - “Big Smoke”

BEST ART DIRECTION/PRODUCTION DESIGN/ MEILLEURE DIRECTION ARTISTIQUE
PATRICE BENGLE - Maman est chez le coiffeur / Mommy is at the Hairdresser's
CAROL SPIER, JANICE BLACKIE-GOODINE - Passchendaele
MATTHEW DAVIES, ERICA MILO - Fugitive Pieces
ROB GRAY - The Stone Angel
DANIELLE LABRIE - Le piège américain / The American Trap

BEST COSTUME DESIGN / MEILLEURS COSTUMES
FRANCESCA CHAMBERLAND - Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life
MARIE-GENEVIEVE CYR - Who is KK Downey?
MICHÈLE HAMEL - Le piège américain / The American Trap
MICHÈLE HAMEL - Maman est chez le coiffeur / Mommy is at the Hairdresser's
WENDY PARTRIDGE - Passchendaele

BEST SOUND / MEILLEUR SON D'ENSEMBLE
MARIO AUCLAIR, LUC BOUDRIAS, FRANÇOIS SENNEVILLE - Le Banquet
CLAUDE LA HAYE, DANIEL BISSON, LUC BOUDRIAS, PATRICK LALONDE - Le piège américain / The American Trap
SANJAY MEHTA, STEPHAN CARRIER, KIRK LYNDS - Amal
LOU SOLAKOFSKI, GARRELL CLARK, STEVE FOSTER - Passchendaele
DAVID OTTIER, DANIEL PRADO VILLAR - This Beautiful City

BEST SOUND EDITING / MEILLEUR MONTAGE SONORE
JANE TATTERSALL, KEVIN BANKS, BARRY GILMORE, ANDY MALCOLM, DAVE ROSE - Passchendaele
CLAUDE BEAUGRAND, JÉROME DÉCARIE, NATALIE FLEURANT, JEAN-FRANÇOIS SAUVÉ - Le piège américain / The American Trap
NELSON FERREIRA - This Beautiful City
ROBERT LABROSSE, LUCIE FORTIER, GUY FRANCOEUR, FRANCE LÉVESQUE, LORI PAQUET - La Ligne brisée / The Broken Line
FRANÇOIS SENNEVILLE, ANTOINE MORIN - Le Banquet

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT DRAMA / MEILLEUR COURT MÉTRAGE DRAMATIQUE
THE ANSWER KEY - Samir Rehem, Robin Crumley
LA BATTUE - Guy Édoin, Pascal Bascaron, Sylvain Corbeil
CAN YOU WAVE BYE-BYE? - Sarah Galea-Davis, Paul Barbeau
MON NOM EST VICTOR GAZON - Patrick Gazé, Antonello Cozzolino, Marie-Josée Laroque, Annie Normandin
NEXT FLOOR - Denis Villeneuve, Phoebe Greenberg

BEST ANIMATED SHORT / MEILLEUR COURT MÉTRAGE D'ANIMATION
DRUX FLUX - Theodore Ushev, Marc Bertrand
THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF MISTER HOLLOW - Rodrigo Gudiño, Vincent Marcone, Marco Pecota
SLEEPING BETTY - Claude Cloutier, Marcel Jean

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