Polytechnique leads Genie race

Denis Villeneuve's gritty drama fronts the pack with 11 nods, followed by newcomer Charles Officer's Nurse.Fighter.Boy

The controversial yet lauded Polytechnique garnered a leading 11 nominations and a slight edge over Nurse.Fighter.Boy, with 10 nods, as organizers on Monday unveiled their picks for the 30th annual Genie Awards in Toronto.

With the exception of Fifty Dead Men Walking, which nabbed seven nods overall, Polytechnique leads a pack of little-known films in the best picture category — which also includes Nurse, the Inuit survival story Before Tomorrow (nine nominations) and the Quebec-made 3 Saisons (three nominations).

Notably absent from the category is Ruba Nadda’s Cairo Time, which received a nod for costume design, and Atom Egoyan’s Adoration, with nominations for original screenplay and a best supporting actor nod for Scott Speedman.

Polytechnique, Denis Villeneuve’s retelling of the 1989 Montreal massacre, is also up for best director, original screenplay, lead actress for Karine Vanasse, supporting actor for Maxim Gaudette, and a variety of craft categories including editing, makeup and cinematography.

Charles Officer

Nurse cleaned up among English-language features to the delight of a stunned and visibly moved Charles Officer, who also snagged a directing nom for his debut film — putting him up against Villeneuve, Kari Skogland for Fifty Dead Men Walking, Bruce McDonald for Pontypool, and newcomers Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu for Before Tomorrow.

‘I’m nervous, shaky, sweaty,’ he told reporters after the press conference, adding, ‘I want to streak in the streets naked!’

For Skogland, the recognition caps a winning year for female filmmakers, as she recalled a review of her Belfast-shot political thriller from film critic Roger Ebert, who said that Skogland and Kathryn Bigelow ‘blew the lid off the notion that women can’t direct action.’ (Bigelow could become the first female helmer to win best director at Sunday’s Oscars for The Hurt Locker.)

‘For me, that was it. I’d taken the last 20 years to advocate for my sisters and myself [and] the playing field just leveled off. I’m hoping for nothing but more,’ she told Playback Daily.

Keri Skogland

Among lead actor contenders are Clark Johnson (Nurse.Fighter.Boy), Paul Dylan Ivalu (Before Tomorrow), Joshua Jackson (One Week), Jean-Carl Boucher (1981) and Stephen McHattie (Pontypool). Rounding out the lead actress nominees are Karen Leblanc (Nurse.Fighter.Boy), Carinne Leduc (3 Saisons), Gabrielle Rose (Mothers & Daughters) and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu (Before Tomorrow).

Meanwhile, the nominees for feature-length documentaries include race relations doc Prom Night in Mississippi, EyeSteelFilm’s RiP: A Remix Manifesto, and the Holocaust doc Inside Hana’s Suitcase.

The Genies will be handed out on April 12.

______________________________

Photos: Suzan Ayscough