Incendies, Barney's Version dominate Genies

Denis Villeneuve reigns over the Genies for a second year, with Incendies earning eight trophies.

Denis Villeneuve reigned over Canada's Genie Awards for a second year in a row, with his searing family drama Incendies earning a leading eight trophies in Ottawa Thursday night.

The intense film — which follows two siblings on a search for answers about their late mother's war-torn past — nabbed the coveted Genie for best picture at the evening gala held at the National Arts Centre.

Denis Villeneuve was king of the Genies again, with Incendies winning eight awards, including best picture. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

"Thank you to the Canadian public, who were loving and supporting Incendies across Canada, from Halifax to Vancouver. We are very proud of that. We are very thankful. Especially to the Québécois, thank you," producer Kim McCraw said as she and fellow producer Luc Déry accepted the Genie for the film.

Based on Wajdi Mouawad's acclaimed stage play of the same name, Incendies was also recognized with Genies for best adapted screenplay, best actress for Belgian Lubna Azabal, and direction for Montreal's Villeneuve.

"I'm deeply touched. It was already a huge honour to be with the [other nominees]," Villeneuve said as he accepted the best director trophy for the border-crossing picture.

Villeneuve thanked his cast, crew and creative team, and also extended thanks to "all the people, our friends in Jordan, from Iraq and Lebanon also that helped us. Thank you very much. This goes straight to my heart."

Villeneuve's previous feature, Polytechnique — a black-and-white retelling of the Montreal massacre that he filmed at the same time as Incendies — dominated the 2010 Genie Awards.

Barney's trophies 

Barney's Version co-star Rachelle Lefevre jokes around with, from left, Bruce Greenwood and Robert Lantos as they arrive for the Genie Awards in Ottawa Thursday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press )

Going into the 2011 Genie gala, Incendies and Barney's Version were the night's two front-runners. Both had already earned accolades from other quarters, including Academy Award nominations, though neither won at the Oscars.

The long-awaited literary adaptation of Mordecai Richler's final opus proved nearly as strong as Incendies  at the Genies, with the Montreal-set film winning in seven categories, including a trio of acting honours.

Barney's Version star Paul Giamatti and co-stars Dustin Hoffman and Minnie Driver all scored prizes — best actor, supporting actor and supporting actress, respectively — though none were present in Ottawa to accept their Genies.  

2011 Genie Awards 

Best picture:Incendies

Direction: Denis Villeneuve, Incendies

Original screenplay: Jacob Tierney, The Trotsky

Adapted screenplay: Denis Villeneuve, Incendies

Lead actor: Paul Giamatti, Barney's Version

Lead actress: Lubna Azabal, Incendies

Supporting actor: Dustin Hoffman, Barney's Version

Supporting actress: Minnie Driver, Barney's Version

Art direction/production design:Barney's Version

Cinematography:Incendies

Costume design:Barney's Version

Make-up:Barney's Version

Editing:Incendies

Original score:Barney's Version

Original song:Already Gone (The Trotsky)

Overall sound:Incendies

Sound editing:Incendies

Documentary:Last Train Home

Live action short drama:Savage

Animated short:Lipsett Diaries (Les Journaux de Lipsett)

Claude Jutra Award: Jephté Bastien, Sortie 67

Golden Reel Award:Resident Evil: Afterlife  

Giamatti did send a written message, which was read by co-star Rachelle Lefevre.

"To be acknowledged in the country that produced this great film, the tremendous novel it's based on and the uniquely brilliant author Mordecai Richler, is pleasing and moving to me beyond words. But honestly, I'm particularly happy that I can take this as a sign that I'm not the American guy that screwed this whole thing up for Canada and Canadians," Giamatti wrote.

He also thanked the Richler family, "who took in and looked after a stray cat of an actor and made him feel deeply at ease and at home."

Montreal in the spotlight

Other Montreal filmmakers also won Genie kudos at the ceremony.

Chinese-Canadian Lixin Fan received the best documentary Genie for his internationally acclaimed Last Train Home, a poignant examination of the struggles faced by Chinese migrant workers.

Rising young writer-director Jacob Tierney, son of veteran filmmaker Kevin Tierney, earned the best original screenplay award for his teen comedy The Trotsky.

The film's star, popular Canadian geek-chic actor Jay Baruchel, won the fan-voted user's choice award — spearheaded by celebrity news and gossip site HollywoodLife.com and CBC, which broadcast Thursday's gala.

"Thank you so much. I literally didn't know that this was an option, so thank you for voting," a clearly astonished Baruchel said on-stage.

"I'll say you people have impeccable taste."

The Trotsky picked up a third trophy, best original song, for the tune Already Gone by Mary Milne.

Previously announced winners include:

  • Montrealer Jephté Bastien, recipient of the Claude Jutra Award for first-time filmmakers for youth gang drama Sortie 67 (Exit 67)
  • The 3D zombie apocalypse blockbuster Resident Evil: Afterlife, winner of the Golden Reel Award for being Canada's top box office draw of the past year.

The 2011 Genie gala was a star-studded, multi-discipline arts affair, with veteran actor William Shatner serving as host and a number of performances from the likes of Melissa Etheridge and Serena Ryder, rock troupe Karkwa, rapper Kardinal Offishall, country singer Johnny Reid and dancers from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

With files from The Canadian Press