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Home Movie News Russian Mafia + Rwanda Genocide Top English-Language-Focused Genie Nominations

Eastern Promises Viggo Mortensen: Dark + violent (+ English-language) Genie Award nominees
Eastern Promises with Viggo Mortensen. David Cronenberg made a name for himself by directing (and sometimes writing) dark, disturbing dramas (The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly) in which violence/gross-out stuff is prevalent and there’s little hope for “the human condition.” At least when it comes to the display of violence, Eastern Promises is no exception to that rule. Viggo Mortensen stars as a London-based Russian mafia hitman who becomes enmeshed with midwife Naomi Watts following the death of a pregnant 14-year-old drug addict. Eastern Promises is in the running for 12 Genie Awards – the Canadian Oscars.

Genie Awards take Oscars’ route: Dark & disturbing (English-language) movies top nominations

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

The 2008 Oscars have Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men and Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. Not to be outdone, the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s 2008 Genie Awards have their own heavy dramas as its two top nominees: David Cronenberg’s Russian mafia thriller Eastern Promises and Roger Spottiswoode’s Rwanda genocide-centered Shake Hands with the Devil, each with 12 nominations.

Next in line is Sarah Polley’s Alzheimer’s disease drama Away from Her with seven nods, followed by Bruce McDonald’s The Tracey Fragments with six; Stéphane Lafleur’s Continental a Film Without Guns / Continental, un film sans fusil and François Girard’s Silk, with five apiece; and Denys Arcand’s Days of Darkness / L’Âge des ténèbres with four.

‘Eastern Promises’ & ‘Shake Hands with the Devil’

Eastern Promises, which is also up for the Best British Film BAFTA (it’s mostly an Anglo-Canadian co-production), stars American Viggo Mortensen and Australian Naomi Watts as two disparate people – he a Russian hitman; she a midwife – whose paths are crossed following the death of a pregnant 14-year-old drug addict. Mortensen, director Cronenberg, supporting actor Armin Mueller-Stahl, and screenwriter Steve Knight are all up for Genies.

Shake Hands with the Devil is based on the autobiography of Lit. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the military commander of the UN mission in Rwanda during the spring of 1994. Roy Dupuis, the star of the highly popular and multiple-Genie winner The Rocket, plays Dallaire.

Shake Hands with the Devil covers similar ground to Peter Raymont’s 2003 documentary of the same name. Both productions depict world inaction – or rather, disregard – while Hutu radicals massacred hundreds of thousands of Tutsis (and non-radical Hutus) following the death of Rwanda’s ethnic Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana in a mysterious plane crash.

Needless to say, neither of these Shake Hands with the Devil films has anything in common with Michael Anderson’s 1959 drama of the same name – set in 1920s Dublin and starring James Cagney, Don Murray, Dana Wynter, and Glynis Johns.

Instead, both Rwanda-set, early 21st-century releases have elements in common with Terry George’s Anglo-Italian-South African Hotel Rwanda, nominated for three Academy Awards, and Robert Favreau’s Canadian-made, French-language A Sunday in Kigali / Un dimanche à Kigali, nominated for eight Genie Awards and 12 Prix Jutra.

British talent in ‘Away from Her’ in, Canadian talent in ‘Juno’ out

Among the seven nominations for Away from Her are two for director and screenwriter Sarah Polley (who adapted Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain”), plus acting nods for veteran British actress (and U.S. film critics fave) Julie Christie – this year’s likely Academy Award winner – and Gordon Pinsent, who, perhaps because he’s not a “name” south of the border, has been utterly ignored by the countless American award-giving groups and guilds.

A curious case: though directed by a Canadian (Jason Reitman) and starring two Canadians (Ellen Page and Michael Cera), Juno wasn’t submitted for Genie consideration by distributor Fox Searchlight. As an American production, it surely would have been deemed ineligible for the awards.

But don’t despair. Ellen Page is in.

While in the running for the 2008 Best Actress Oscar for Juno, Page is in the running for the 2008 Genie Awards for The Tracey Fragments, which uses split screens to tell the inner story of a 15-year-old (Page will be turning 21 next February) attempting to come to terms with both impending adulthood and her budding sexuality. Also shortlisted for the Genies were director Bruce McDonald, who has handled several episodes of the American series Queer As Folk, and screenwriter Maureen Medved, who adapted her own novel.

The Tracey Fragments Ellen Page Ari Cohen: Genie Award-nominated Juno actressThe Tracey Fragments with Ellen Page with Ari Cohen. Currently associated with troubled teenage characters – Hard Candy, Juno, An American Crime – 20-year-old Ellen Page is up for this year’s Best Actress Genie Award for her performance as a troubled 15-year-old in Bruce McDonald’s The Tracey Fragments, in which the lead character remembers her difficult life while searching for her missing younger brother.

French-language ‘Days of Darkness’ up for English-language-focused Genie Awards

Denys Arcand’s French-language Days of Darkness, about a civil servant with a wild imagination à la Danny Kaye in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, was one of the nine semifinalists in the (American) Academy’s Best Foreign Language Film category. Ultimately, however, Days of Darkness failed to land an Oscar nod.

The Canadian Academy, for its part, found Arcand’s latest good enough to merit nominations for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Marc Labrèche), and Best Original Screenplay (also Arcand).

Besides the dark themes of many of this year’s top nominees, something particularly noteworthy about the 2008 Genie Awards is the strong presence of English-language fare: Eastern Promises, Shake Hands with the Devil (which has some French-language dialogue), Away from Her, The Tracey Fragments, Clement Virgo’s Poor Boy’s Game (up for three Genies, including Best Actor nominee Danny Glover), Andrew Currie’s Fido (up for three Genies), Paul Fox’s Best Original Screenplay nominee Everything’s Gone Green, and others.

Why is that noteworthy?

Well, so far this century, French-language Quebecois productions such as Jean-Marc Vallée’s C.R.A.Z.Y., Erik Canuel’s Bon Cop Bad Cop, Charles Binamé’s The Rocket, Sylvain Chomet’s The Triplets of Belleville, Francis Leclerc’s Looking for Alexander, Denys Arcand’s The Barbarian Invasions, and Denis Villeneuve’s Maelstrom, have dominated the Genie nominations (and, for the most part, the Genie wins).

The 2008 Genie Awards ceremony will be held on March 3 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. For the first time ever, it will be broadcast (at least in Canada) on E! and IFC.

Update: Full list of 2008 Genie Award winners & nominees.

More awards season news: From Hollywood to Switzerland

From Canada’s Genie Awards to Hollywood’s DGA Awards to the Swiss Film Awards to…

The 2008 Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award winners were announced on Jan. 26. As expected, awards season favorites Joel and Ethan Coen topped the Feature Films category for the violent crime thriller No Country for Old Men.

At the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Awards, also held on Jan. 26, the theatrical feature winner was Robert Elswit for his work on Paul Thomas Anderson’s California-set period drama There Will Be Blood, starring Best Actor Oscar favorite Daniel Day-Lewis. Elswit was a previous ASC Award nominee for George Clooney’s Good Night and Good Luck. (2005).

At the Swiss Film Awards, the jury headed by veteran actress Marthe Keller (And Now My Love, Marathon Man) selected Micha Lewinsky’s The Friend / Der Freund as Best Narrative Film. Philippe Graber stars as a young man whose Girl of His Dreams has unexpectedly died.

Spanish & Bavarian film awards + Slamdance Film Festival winners

There’s more: the Spanish Cinema Writers Circle named Gracia Querejeta’s Seven Billiard Tables / Siete mesas de billar francés the best Spanish release of 2007. Best Actress winner Maribel Verdú stars as a woman who, following the death of her father and the disappearance of her husband, decides to begin a new life of her own by resurrecting her deceased father’s old (and failed) business: a local joint with seven billiard tables.

At the Bavarian Film Awards, the Best Producer(s) – that’s the equivalent of their Best Film prize – were Molly von Fürstenberg and Harald Kügler for Cherry Blossoms / Kirschblüten – Hanami, which also earned Elmar Wepper the Best Actor award. The Best Director, however, was Fatih Akin for the multicharacter psychological drama The Edge of Heaven / Auf der anderen Seite, winner of the Best Screenplay award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.

Lastly, the Best Narrative Feature Grand Jury Award winner at the 2008 Slamdance Film Festival was writer-director Tom Quinn’s The New Year Parade, a depiction of the effects of an acrimonious divorce on a couple’s teenage children. Unlike Noah Baumbach’s similarly themed The Squid and the Whale, the more “experimental” The New Year Parade mixes actors and non-actors, documentary footage and fiction. The indie-focused Slamdance was held Jan. 17–25 in Park City, Utah.

Below are lists of award winners (and sometimes nominees) from the following entities: DGA (partial), ASC (partial), Swiss Film, Cinema Writers Circle, Bavarian Film, and Slamdance (partial).

Seven Billiard Tables Maribel Verdú Blanca Portillo: Cinema Writers Circle top pickSeven Billiard Tables with Maribel Verdú and Blanca Portillo. Gracia Querejeta’s drama Seven Billiard Tables / Siete mesas de billar francés was shortlisted for nine Spanish Cinema Writers Circle Awards, ultimately winning two: Best Film and Best Actress for Maribel Verdú (Y Tu Mamá También, Pan’s Labyrinth). The story of a woman attempting to resurrect her deceased father’s failed billiard joint, Seven Billiard Tables is also up for 10 Goya Awards. Also in the cast: Blanca Portillo (seen in Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver), Jesús Castejón, Enrique Villén, Raúl Arévalo, Amparo Baró, and José Luis García Pérez.

DGA Awards (partial list)

Feature Films
Paul Thomas Anderson – There Will Be Blood.
* Joel and Ethan Coen – No Country for Old Men.
Tony GilroyMichael Clayton.
Sean PennInto the Wild.
Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly / Le Scaphandre et le papillon.

Ken Burns & Lynn Novick – The War.
Alex Gibney – Taxi to the Dark Side.
* Asger Leth – Ghosts of Cité Soleil.
Richard E. Robbins – Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience.
Barbet Schroeder – Terror’s Advocate / L’avocat de la terreur.

Movies for Television/Miniseries
Jon Avnet – The Starter Wife.
Jeremiah Chechik – The Bronx Is Burning.
Lloyd Kramer – Oprah Winfrey Presents Mitch Albom’s for One More Day.
Mikael Salomon – The Company.
* Yves Simoneau – Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

Honorary Life Member Award: Jay D. Roth.

American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Awards (partial list)

Theatrical Motion Pictures
* Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood.
Roger Deakins, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
Seamus McGarvey, Atonement.
Janusz Kaminski, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Roger Deakins, No Country for Old Men.

Motion Picture, Miniseries or Pilot Made for Television
Oliver Bokelberg, Raines.
David Franco, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
* Ben Nott, The Company.
René Ohashi, Jesse Stone: Sea Change.
Michael Weaver, Pushing Daisies.

President’s Award: Richard Edlund.

International Achievement Award: Walter Lassally.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Stephen H. Burum.

Board of the Governors Award: Annette Bening.

Career Achievement in Television Award: George Spiro Dibie.

Swiss Film Awards

Best Narrative Film: The Friend / Der Freund, dir.: Micha Lewinsky.

Best Documentary: Echoes of Home / Heimatklänge, dir.: Stefan Schwietert.

Best Actress: Sabine Timoteo, Nebenwirkungen.

Best Actor: Bruno Cathomas, Chicken mexicaine.

Best Emerging Actor or Actress: Philippe Graber, The Friend.

Best Screenplay: Jeanne Waltz, A Parting Shot / Pas douce.

Best Short Film: On the Line / Auf der Strecke, Reto Caffi.

Special Jury Prize: Moritz Schneider, Stress & Mich Gerber for the music in Breakout.

Spanish Film Writers Circle Awards

Best Film
* Seven Billiard Tables / Siete mesas de billar francés, Gracia Querejeta.
Solitary Fragments / La Soledad, Jaime Rosales.
The Orphanage / El orfanato, J.A. Bayona.
Mataharis, Icíar Bollaín.

Best Foreign Film
* The Lives of Others / Das leben der anderen, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (Germany).
Once, John Carney (Ireland).
Ratatouille, Brad Bird (U.S.).
Apocalypto, Mel Gibson (U.S.).

Best Director
Icíar Bollaín, Mataharis.
Gracia Querejeta, Seven Billiard Tables.
* Jaime Rosales, Solitary Fragments.
J.A. Bayona, The Orphanage.

Best Actor
* Alfredo Landa, Sunday Light / Luz de domingo.
Alberto San Juan, Under the Stars / Bajo las estrellas.
Juan José Ballesta, Thieves / Ladrones.
Tristán Ulloa, Mataharis.

Best Actress
* Maribel Verdú, Seven Billiard Tables.
Belén Rueda, The Orphanage.
Blanca Portillo, Seven Billiard Tables.
Najwa Nimri, Mataharis.

Best Supporting Actor
* Carlos Larrañaga, Sunday Light.
Julián Villagrán, Under the Stars.
Manuel Galiana, Sunday Light.
Raúl Arévalo, Seven Billiard Tables.
Jesús Castejón, Seven Billiard Tables.

Best Supporting Actress
* María Vázquez, Mataharis.
Amparo Baró, Seven Billiard Tables.
Nuria González, Mataharis.
Kiti Manver, Sunday Light.

Best Original Screenplay
David Planell & Gracia Querejeta, Seven Billiard Tables.
* Icíar Bollaín & Tatiana Rodríguez, Mataharis.
Jaime Rosales & Enric Rufas, Solitary Fragments.
Sergio G. Sánchez, The Orphanage.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Félix Viscarret, Under the Stars.
* José Luis Garci & Horacio Valcárcel, Sunday Light.
Rodrigo Plá & Laura Santullo, La zona.
Tristán Ulloa, Pudor.

Best Cinematography
Óscar Faura, The Orphanage.
* Félix Monti, Sunday Light.
José Luis López-Linares & Eduardo Serra, Fados.
David Azcano, Thieves.

Best Editing
Nacho Ruiz Capillas, Seven Billiard Tables.
* Elena Ruiz, The Orphanage.
Nino Martínez Sosa, Solitary Fragments.
Ángel Hernández Zoido, Mataharis.
David Gallart, [Rec].

Best Score
* Fernando Velázquez, The Orphanage.
Mikel Salas, Under the Stars.
Pablo Cervantes, Sunday Light.
Roque Baños, Las 13 rosas.

Best Documentary
* Fados, Carlos Saura.
Invisibles, Mariano Barroso, Isabel Coixet, Fernando León de Aranoa, Javier Corcuera & Wim Wenders.
El productor, Fernando Méndez Leite.
Las alas de la vida, Antoni P. Canet.

Best Newcomer
* Director J.A. Bayona, The Orphanage.
Director Félix Viscarret, Under the Stars.
Actress Manuela Velasco, [Rec].
Actress Gala Évora, Lola la película.

Honorary Medal: Aurora Bautista.

Journalism Medal: José María Caparrós Lera.

Bavarian Film Awards

Best Producer: Olga Film – Molly von Fürstenberg & Harald Kügler, Cherry Blossoms / Kirschblüten – Hanami.

Best Director: Fatih Akin, The Edge of Heaven / Auf der anderen Seite.

Best Actor: Elmar Wepper, Cherry Blossoms.

Best Actress: Martina Gedeck, Messy Christmas / Meine schöne Bescherung.

Best Documentary: Pepe Danquart, Am Limit.

Best Cinematography: Benedict Neuenfels, Love Life / Liebesleben.

Best Score: Niki Reiser, Love Life.

Best New Performers: Elinor Lüdde, Meer is nich & Petra Schmidt-Schaller, Runaway Horse / Ein fliehendes Pferd.

Best New Director & Screenwriter: Ralf Westhoff, Shoppen.

Best New Producers: Hans-Christian Schmid & Britta Knöller, And Along Come Tourists / Am Ende kommen Touristen.

Best Youth Film: Detlev Buck, Hands off Mississippi / Hände weg von Mississippi.

Special Award: Veit Helmer, Absurdistan.

Honorary Award: Michael Ballhaus.

Audience Award: Lissi und der wilde Kaiser.

Slamdance Film Festival winners (partial list)

Grand Jury Awards

Best Narrative Feature: The New Year Parade, dir.: Tom Quinn.

Honorable Mention for Narrative Feature: How to Be, dir.: Oliver Irving.

Best Documentary Feature: Song Sung Blue, dir.: Greg Kohs.

Best Animated Short: Blood Will Tell, dir.: Andrew McPhillips.

Best Documentary Short: The Ladies, dir.: C.A. Voros.

Best Narrative Short: Son, dir.: Daniel Mulloy.

Audience Awards

Best Narrative Feature: The Project, dir.: Ryan Piotrowicz.

Best Documentary Feature: Song Sung Blue, dir.: Greg Kohs.

Global Audience Award for Best Anarchy Film: Rock Garden: A Love Story, dir.: Gloria U.Y. Kim.

Spirit of Slamdance Award: Woman in Burka, dir.: Jonathan Lisecki.

Kodak Vision Award for Best Cinematography: Crooked Lake / Portage, Sascha Drews & Ezra Krybus.

Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television website.

Viggo Mortensen Eastern Promises image: BBC Films / Telefilm Canada.

Ellen Page with Ari Cohen The Tracey Fragments image: Odeon Films.

Maribel Verdú and Blanca Portillo Seven Billiard Tables image: Elías Querejeta Producciones Cinematográficas.

“Russian Mafia & Rwanda Genocide Top English-Language-Focused Genie Nominations + DGA & ASC Awards” last updated in October 2018.

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