Falardeau's politically charged period piece grabs nine

MONTREAL — Helmer Andre Turpin’s “Soft Shell Man” (Un Crabe dans la tete), which bowed at Sundance Stateside, leads the race for this year’s Jutras, the annual Quebec film awards announced Wednesday.

“Soft Shell Man,” the comic tale of a photographer who can’t commit to relationships, snared 10 nominations, including best film, Turpin for direction, David La Haye for actor, as well as screenplay and photography.

Pic, which opened the Perspective Canada program at last fall’s Toronto Intl. Film Festival, has garnered C$317,000 ($199,000) at the box office in Quebec, and opens in Toronto next month. It also has four nominations for Feb. 7’s Canadian Genie Awards. The Jutra ceremony will be held Feb. 17 in Montreal.

The second most-nominated film is Pierre Falardeau’s politically charged period piece “February 15, 1839,” with nine noms. Falardeau is up for direction and screenwriting, Luc Picard for actor and the pic is in the hunt for the film award.

Denis Chouinard’s “Tar Angel” (L’Ange de goudron), another highly political pic, received eight Jutra nods, including film, director, script and best actor (France’s Zinedine Soualem). It chronicles the problems of Algerian immigrants living in Montreal.

“The Woman Who Drinks” (La femme qui boit), director Bernard Emond’s wrenching story of alcohol abuse, is up for five Jutras, including film and actress (Elise Guilbault).

Jutra voters largely overlooked the year’s popular Quebec films. Hockey comedy “Les Boys III” is one of the most successful films in the history of Quebec cinema, with a box office take so far of $3.2 million. Yet it only snared two nominations, for actor (Remy Girard, Marc Messier, and Patrick Huard) and supporting actor (Pierre Lebeau). “Wedding Night” (Nuit de noces), which sold $1.2 million worth of tickets last summer, also took two nods, for supporting actress (Pierette Robitaille) and sound.

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