Genies broadcast

gets the thumbs-up...

gets the thumbs-up

montreal: It was mercifully fast-paced and at times more than a little bewildering, at least for some of the out-of-town ‘colleagues,’ but the 14th edition of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television’s Genie Awards was a healthy tonic for this country’s introspective film industry.

Broadcast live in French Dec. 12 from Studio 42 at Radio-Canada, Quebecers ran the show, but in large measure it was folks from points west who took home the honors.

Francois Girard’s English-language film Thirty-two Short Films About Glenn Gould won four Genies, including best picture and best director. The Lotus Eaters captured three, including best leading actress for Sheila McCarthy and best screenplay for b.c. writer Peggy Thompson.

Tom McCamus was named the year’s best actor and Kevin Tighe best supporting actor for their performances in David Wellington’s I Love a Man in Uniform. Jacques Dorfmann’s snowbound megaproduction Agaguk picked up two craft Genies, for art direction and costumes, while Le Sexe des etoiles, The Grocer’s Wife and Cadillac Girls each won one Genie.

Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives won for best feature-length documentary, and Le Singe Bleu won for best short-form documentary.

The two-hour 20-minute show was fast-paced, zany and fully under the control of the evening’s master of ceremonies, talented actor Marc Labreche, who plays the lead in Roger Cantin’s wide-screen feature Matusalem.

Near the top of the show, with microphone in hand, the mischievous mc left the stage to descend on a bewildered audience. In the spirit of left-handed diplomacy – he had earlier referred to the English-speaking contingent in the audience as ‘the colleagues’ – he took a friendly poke at actor McCamus, who was tagged ‘boss of the colleagues,’ no doubt for the entire evening.

In one of the show’s high points, sound pioneer and Genie Special Lifetime Achievement Award winner Ken Heeley-Ray revealed how he got to be the very best in the business over an inspired 50-year career.

‘I tried,’ he said, ‘to put back into the industry what I learned.’ With great emotion and the modesty that characterizes the best craftspeople, he thanked ‘some of the greatest talents in the whole world,’ those who had taught him film, and to ever-growing approval from the audience, Heeley-Ray (Ten Commandments, Treasure Island, Quest for Fire) urged the industry in Canada to double its vigilance and safeguard hard-won gains.

‘If we are not careful, we’re going to lose it,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what it takes… more money or what?’

Strapped into a Softimage Channels image-animation rig, actor/director Robert Lepage, in the guise of a contemplative Cyrano de Bergerac, recommended Canadian film remain true to its nature (‘que le cinema d’ici vive a sa facon’) or face the grim consequences – unbridled commercialism, Americanization and ultimately demise.

No knocks at the public funding agencies on this happy evening, although one might have excepted a little hardball from the Air Canada Award-winning duo of John Dunning and Andre Link. Their ‘high-concept’ vision of filmmaking in Canada has rarely been in step with the thinking of bureaucrats; for these two men, making movies has always meant making a buck.

But the irony of the award (for outstanding contribution to the development of the industry in Canada) is all part of the fun, and their graceful acceptance speech was the mellow end-game of true outsiders who today can say they’ve done it all – from producing Denis Heroux’s soft-porn film Valerie, the first Quebec film to gross $1 million, to coproducing the National Film Board’s Princes in Exile.

Actress Marie Tifo offered a moving tribute to late director Francis Mankiewicz. His death in August has been a terrible blow to the industry in this country.

Perhaps the evening’s hottest-looking presentation duo was the ever-radiant Quebec recording artist Mitsou, an unlikely match for crowd-shy director Francois Girard. They gave Alain Dostie the Genie for best achievement in cinematography. Then Dostie thanked Toronto producer Niv Fichman for ‘the total freedom to create… and a marvellous shoot.’

The circle was complete when Fichman said Thirty-two Short Films About Glenn Gould was proof the two main linguistic groups in the country could work together, adding the film had been ‘a model of collaboration between artists of our two cities.’

Rounding out this year’s acct special prize winners were producers Pierre Sarrazin and Claude Bonin who accepted the Golden Reel Award for George Mihalka’s La Florida. Distributed exclusively in the Quebec market by Alliance Vivafilm, the comedy has pulled in box office receipts of $1.64 million. It is slated for release in the English Canadian market in January.

An initiative of the Directors Guild of Canada, the new Claude-Jutra Award for best first feature was presented by industry veterans Monique Mercure and Mihalka to John Pozer, director of The Grocer’s Wife.

Following the Montreal gala broadcast, cbc televised a one-hour Genie special live from a bash at the Hotel Inter-Continental in Toronto.

The 1993 Genie Awards were executive produced by Pierre Gendron, acct vice-chair, cinema, and Patrice Lachance, Quebec director. David Novek is the president of the acct’s Quebec section, Ann Medina is chair. The show was directed by Radio-Canada’s Jocelyn Barnabe and produced by ScenoVision’s Mario Bourdon. Writers were Richard Gohier and Robert Geoffrion.

In total, 47 features, documentaries and short films were entered in this year’s Genie competition. A complete list of winners follows.

Best Motion Picture: Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, Niv Fichman, producer.

Best Achievement in Art Direction/Production Design: Wolf Kroeger, Agaguk.

Best Achievement in Costume Design: Olga Dimitrov, Agaguk.

Best Achievement in Cinematography: Alain Dostie, Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould.

Best Achievement in Direction: Francois Girard Thirty-two Short Films About Glenn Gould.

Best Achievement in Editing: Gaeton Huot, Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould.

Best Musical Score: Simon Kendall, Cadillac Girls.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Tom McCamus, I Love a Man in Uniform.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Kevin Tighe, I Love a Man in Uniform.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Sheila McCarthy, The Lotus Eaters.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nicola Cavendish, The Grocer’s Wife.

Best Achievement in Overall Sound: Hans Peter Strobl, Richard Besse, Jocelyn Caron, Le sexe des etoiles.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing: Gael Maclean, Anke Bakker, Alison Grace, Ellen Gram, Maureen Wetteland, The Lotus Eaters.

Best Screenplay: Peggy Thompson, The Lotus Eaters.

Best Feature-length Documentary: Forbidden Love, Aerlyn Weissman, Lynn Fernie, directors.

Best Short Documentary: le singe bleu, Esther Valiquette, director.

Best Live-action Short Drama: The Fairy Who Didn’t Want to be a Fairy Anymore, Laurie Lynd, director.

Best Animated Short: Pearl’s Diner, Lynn Smith, director and producer.

1992 Golden Reel Award: La Florida, Pierre Sarrazin, Claude Bonin, producers; George Mihalka, director.

Air Canada Award: John Dunning and Andre Link

Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award: Ken Heeley-Ray.

Claude Jutra Award for Direction of a First Feature Film: John Pozer for The Grocer’s Wife.