|TORONTO (CP) _ Two Quebec films have received a total of 20 Genie nominations in categories including best picture, best actor and best director. |
The Genie Awards, Canada's equivalent to the Oscars, will be handed out at a gala ceremony May 1, to be televised this year not by the CBC but by CHUM Television.
Leading the pack with 11 nods is La Grande seduction, Jean-Francois Pouliot's gentle comedy starring Raymond Bouchard about a small, financially strapped Quebec fishing village that hatches a plot to lure a resident doctor. It was a box office smash in Quebec and was nominated for 13 Jutra Awards but lost out to Deny Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions barbares) which scooped up all the major categories.
Arcand's film is tied with Charles Martin Smith's The Snow Walker, also a best-picture contender, for nine Genie nominations. The Barbarian Invasions, about a group of aging Quebec intellectuals reminiscing about their hedonistic youth, has already won a heap of international awards, including the Oscar for best foreign film, and was a major winner at last year's Cannes Film Festival as well as the Toronto International Film Festival.
The Snow Walker, starring Vancouver actor Barry Pepper, is based on a Farley Mowat story about a cocky bush pilot who crashes in the remote Arctic in the 1950s and whose survival is aided by his passenger, an ailing young Inuit woman.
Other leading nominees from Quebec include Seraphin: Un homme et son peche, with six, and La Face cachee de la lune, with four, including best picture. Falling Angels has six as well while Guy Maddin's The Saddest Music in the World has three.
Also in the nominations race are The Gospel of John, Marion Bridge, Norman Jewison's The Statement and the family holiday movie Blizzard, with Christopher Plummer getting a supporting-actor nod as Santa Claus. Other nominated actors include Pepper, Barbarian Invasions star Remy Girard, Molly Parker, Sarah Polley, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Roy Dupuis, Marie-Josee Croze, Olympic Dukakis and Inuit newcomer Annabella Piugattuk.
Traditionally the Genie Awards gala is telecast in prime time by the CBC where it has earned miserable ratings. This year, however, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, which also oversees TV's Gemini Awards, has a new co-producer in CHUM, which plans to air the event on Citytv, Star, Access and ASN, under the motto ``Our stars, our stories, our screens.''
The Genie nominees are being unveiled this year after some major changes were made to the system that chooses them.
The Academy says under its revisions, the previous double jury has been replaced by a single jury that reviews all entries. In addition, the secret ballot has been replaced by a process of open discussion and consensus. The Academy is also planning to reinstate the best foreign actor and actress categories to better reflect the growing number of Canadian-international co-productions.
The changes come after director David Cronenberg complained bitterly last year that the jury system was flawed and that foreign actors were discriminated against.