Entertainment

Polytechnique tops Genie nominations

Polytechnique, the controversial Denis Villeneuve film about the 1989 Montreal massacre, has earned a leading 11 nominations for the Genie Awards, Canada's top honour for film.
Maxim Gaudette portrays the unstable misogynist Marc Lépine, who murdered female engineering students during the infamous Montreal massacre, in Denis Villeneuve's film Polytechnique. ((Alliance Films Media))
Polytechnique,
the controversial Denis Villeneuve film about the 1989 Montreal massacre, has earned a leading 11 nominations for the Genie Awards, Canada's top honour for film.

Shot in black and white, the film recreates the tragedy in which Marc Lépine walked into a classroom at the city's prestigious École Polytechnique engineering school, told the men to leave, then shot 14 women.

The gritty drama earned nods in 11 of the 21 categories, including for best film, direction, original screenplay and for performances by Karine Vanasse (lead actress) and Maxim Gaudette (supporting actor).

Polytechnique will vie for the coveted best feature film honour against the films 3 Saisons, Before Tomorrow, Fifty Dead Men Walking and Nurse.Fighter.Boy.

'Emotional journey'

Nurse.Fighter.Boy, the feature debut of Toronto filmmaker Charles Officer, was another multiple nominee, picking up 10 nominations. After premiering at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival and released theatrically about a year ago, the $500,000 film — an urban love-and-family story revolving around a faded boxer, a devoted nurse and her son — has since been released on DVD.

Officer started the day just hoping that his actors would be nominated so they could garner some recognition for a film he called "an emotional journey."  

Nurse Jude, portrayed by Karen LeBlanc, left, meets a boxer named Silence (Clark Johnson) in Charles Officer's debut, Nurse.Fighter.Boy. ((Steve Cosens/TIFF))
"If I can come out of here with even one of those actors getting recognized, I [would be] so happy. Someone might have to bail me out of prison today because I'll go streak in the streets naked," he quipped to reporters shortly after the nominations were announced late Monday morning.

He was ecstatic about Nurse.Fighter.Boy's many nominations, which represents a piece of art from his community "getting out," said Officer, who personally earned a nod for his direction and shares an original screenplay nomination with his producer, Ingrid Veninger.

"It's not just a black community, but a community of artists, people who are working on similar projects," he said. "We're all working together. We're trying to make movies. It's hard. To get recognized for doing something personal and sticking true to your gut is the ultimate sort of [acknowledgement]."

Along with Officer and Polytechnique's Villeneuve, the other best director contenders include Bruce McDonald for his small-town Ontario zombie flick Pontypool, Kari Skogland for her gritty and frenetic IRA thriller Fifty Dead Men Walking and Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu for the intimate Inuit tale Before Tomorrow.

Selected Genie nominees include:

  • Lead actress: Madeline Piujuq Ivalu, Before Tomorrow; Karen LeBlanc, Nurse.Fighter.Boy; Carinne Leduc, 3 Saisons; Gabrielle Rose, Mothers & Daughters; Karine Vanasse, Polytechnique.
  • Lead actor: Jean-Carl Boucher, 1981; Paul Dylan Ivalu, Before Tomorrow; Joshua Jackson, One Week; Clark Johnson, Nurse.Fighter.Boy; Stephen McHattie, Pontypool.
  • Supporting actor: Patrick Drolet, Father and Guns; John Dunsworth, Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day; Maxim Gaudette, Polytechnique; Rémy Girard, Father and Guns; Scott Speedman, Adoration.
  • Supporting actress: Liane Balaban, One Week; Marie Brassard, Heat Wave; Martha Burns, Love & Savagery; Isabel Richer, Babine; Sonia Vachon, 5150 Elm's Way.
  • Original screenplay: Adoration; Father and Guns; Nurse.Fighter.Boy; Polytechnique; Victoria Day.
  • Adapted screenplay: Before Tomorrow; Fifty Dead Men Walking; Pontypool.
  • Feature documentary: A Hard Name; Ladies in Blue; Inside Hana's Suitcase; Prom Night in Mississippi; R.I.P: A Remix Manifesto.
  • Short documentary: The Delian Mode; Passages; Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands.
  • Live action short: Danse Macabre; Gilles; Princess Margaret Blvd.; Land of Men; Life Begins.
  • Animated short: Runaway; The Spine; Viva La Rose.
Xavier Dolan appeared in his debut film I Killed My Mother. ((Clara Palardy/K-Films Amerique))
The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, which organizes the Genie Awards, also announced the recipients of several special awards.

Montreal filmmaker Xavier Dolan, who captivated audiences on the festival circuit this past year with his debut feature I Killed My Mother, is the winner of the annual Claude Jutra Award, which recognizes the outstanding achievement of a first-time filmmaker.

The Academy Achievement Award will be presented to La Cité du Cinema soundstage founder Mel Hoppenheim.

The French-language film De père en flic (Father and Guns) has also been named the winner of the Golden Reel Award, which recognizes the Canadian film that earned the highest domestic box office. Released in the summer of 2009, it grossed nearly $11 million at the Canadian box office and set a new record as the highest domestic grossing French-language film ever released in Quebec and Canada.

The 30th annual Genie Awards gala will take place in Toronto on April 12.

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