Polytechnique sweeps Genies

Denis Villeneuve's Polytechnique has swept the Genie Awards, earning nine prizes, including best film.
Denis Villeneuve's Polytechnique swept the Genie Awards in Toronto on Monday night, earning nine awards, including best film.

Villeneuve was named best director, while screenwriter Jacques Davidts won for best original screenplay and the film took costume, editing and cinematography awards.

Polytechnique was vying for best feature film at the annual awards for the best in Canadian film, in competition against 3 Saisons, Before Tomorrow, Fifty Dead Men Walking and Nurse.Fighter.Boy

Kari Skogland's Fifty Dead Men Walking won two Genies and there was some hardware for One Week, Before Tomorrow and Love and Savagery, but the evening belonged to Villeneuve's film about the 1989 Montreal Massacre.

Villeneuve set out to make a dramatic statement about violence against women in Polytechnique, about the real-life shootings of women at Montreal's École Polytéchnique that resulted in 14 deaths.

The film, shot simultaneously in French and English by the same actors, was released in both markets just a month apart, making it a rare box-office success in both anglophone and francophone Canada.

Director Denis Villeneuve poses backstage with his Genie for best director for Polytechnique. ((Chris Young/Canadian Press))
Villeneuve was presented with the best director award by Joshua Jackson, the Fringe and One Week actor from Vancouver.

Villeneuve said he was "deeply touched" by the win.

The film "was not honestly made for this honour — it was made for the [Canadian] people," Villeneuve said. "It was a huge responsibility and a huge privilege for me to make this movie."

Lead actress Karine Vanasse, playing Valérie, won the best actress honours for her role in Polytechnique.

A tearful Vanasse said it meant a lot to her as a young woman to make the film.

"I'm holding this and thinking of the 14 victims of the massacre and also those who were injured," she said, wielding her Genie. "I know this event had a huge impact on the lives of these people."

Vanasse, who also produced the film, dismissed criticism that it exploited a painful event in Montreal history.

"Denis really approached it with sensitivity and honesty and respect and that was what the audience perceived when they saw the movie," she said in a backstage interview before the awards ceremony.

 Genie winners

 Best film:Polytechnique

 Best direction: Denis Villeneuve, Polytechnique
 Best actor: Joshua Jackson,One Week
 Best actress: Karine Vanasse, Polytechnique
 Best supporting actor: Maxim Gaudette, Polytechnique
 Best supporting actress: Martha Burns, Love & Savagery
 Best original screenplay: Jacques Davidts, Polytechnique
 Best adapted screenplay: Kari Skogland, Fifty Dead Men Walking
 Best art direction: Eve Stewart, Fifty Dead Men Walking
 Best costume design: Atuat Akittirq, Before Tomorrow
 Best editing: Richard Comeau, Polytechnique
 Best sound: Stephane Bergeron, Pierre Blain, Jo Caron, Benoit Leduc, Polytechnique
Best cinematography: Pierre Gill, Polytechnique
Best sound editing: Claude Beaugrand, Guy Francoeur, Carole Gagnon, Christian Rivest, Polytechnique
Best original score: Normand Corbeil, Grande ourse: La clé des possibles/The Master Key!
Best makeup: Djina Caron, André Duval, Grande ourse: La clé des possibles/The Master Key!
Best song: Oh Love, from Nurse.Fighter.Boy, John Welsman, Cherie Camp
Best animated short: Cordell Barker, Runaway
Best short documentary:The Delian Mode, Kara Blake, Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre
Best live action short drama:Danse Macabre, Pedro Pires, Catherine Chagnon
 Best feature documentary:A Hard Name, Alan Zweig, Kristina McLaughlin, Michael McMahon

Quebec actor Maxime Gaudette won the best supporting actor Genie in his role as the killer in the film. He won a Jutra, Quebec's film award, for the same role.

"I did not want to play a monster, a mad killer. I wanted to play a human being first," Gaudette said. "He had a deranged mind, but we had access to his pain and I wanted to show it."

He thanked Villeneuve for choosing him for the role, adding, "I'm very proud to be here and very touched by this honour."

Skogland won best adapted screenplay for Fifty Dead MenWalking, her film about a young Irish hustler who infiltrates the IRA as an informant for the British. It was adapted from Martin McGartland's 1997 autobiography. The film also earned the best art direction honours.

"When you're sitting along in a room adapting a book, trying to bring the characters to life, you never know where it's going to end up," said Skogland in her acceptance speech.

"I'm so proud to be able to tell this story," she said, thanking her family and the city of Belfast for being behind her in shooting the film.

Jackson was named best actor for his part in the road movie One Week, about a man who travels by motorcycle across Canada when he learns he may have only weeks to live.

"For me as a B.C. boy, I got to see a whole section of the country I'd never seen before," said Jackson, who escorted his girlfriend, Inglorious Basterds actress Diane Kruger, to the Toronto ceremony.

"It was a small movie, a small group of people involved and as we got into it, it began to take on a magical feel. I think that's how we were able to attract such good people."

Best supporting actress was Martha Burns of Love and Savagery, who plays the Mother Superior in John N. Smith's movie about a young Irish girl torn between the convent and a romance.

The Inuit drama Before Tomorrow, which had nine nominations, came away with just one Genie — best costume design honours for Atuat Akittirq.

Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson arrive at the 30th Genie Awards Gala in Toronto on Monday. Jackson won best actor award for his role in One Week. (Adrien Veczan/Reuters)
The story of an elder who keeps her grandson alive after an epidemic, the Inuktitut-language film was a collaboration between Arnait, an Igloolik, Nunavut-based collective and  Isuma Productions.

Winnipeg animator Cordell Barker's much recognized short Runaway, was named best animated film, while the best documentary was A Hard Name, a film about ex-cons trying to stay out of prison, by Alan Zweig, Kristina McLaughlin and Michael McMahon.

The Claude Jutra Award, a special award presented at the annual Genie ceremony to the year's best feature film, was presented to the young director of J'ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother), Xavier Dolan, who did not attend.

Dolan's debut coming-of-age story was overlooked in Genie nominations, although it was named best film at Quebec's Jutra Awards.