‘Lazhar’ tops Canada’s Genie Awards

Wins best picture, helmer and two acting nods

Writer-helmer Philippe Falardeau’s “Monsieur Lazhar,” which came up short in the foreign-lingo category at the Oscars, fared better at the Genie Awards, dominating the Canadian film awards in Toronto on Thursday night.

“Monsieur Lazhar” won six Genies, including best picture, director and adapted screenplay (also Falardeau). Algerian thesp and stand-up comic Fellag won best actor for his role as a teacher while 11-year-old Sophie Nelisse, who plays a grade-school kid, nabbed supporting actress honors. Pic also took best editor (Stephane Lafleur).

Adapted from the play by Evelyne de la Cheneliere, pic is an intimate drama about an Algerian refugee who takes over a sixth-grade class in a Montreal school after the teacher commits suicide in the classroom.

The film won numerous awards previously, including best Canadian feature at the Toronto Film Festival. It was named Canadian film of the year by the Toronto Film Critics Assn.

Viggo Mortensen took supporting actor for his role as Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” which won five Genies but mostly in craft categories: original score (Howard Shore), art direction (James McAteer), overall sound and sound editing.

Montreal filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallee’s “Cafe de Flore” had the most noms going in — 13 — and came away with a statuette for Vanessa Paradis as best actress for her portrayal of a mother of a boy with down’s syndrome in 1960s Paris, and another for best makeup.

Quebec comedy “Starbuck” nabbed Genies for original screenplay (helmer Ken Scott and co-writer Martin Petit), original song (Carole Facal’s “Quelque part”) and, as previously announced, the Cineplex Golden Reel Award as the top homegrown B.O. performer of the year.

The other previously announced award went to Montreal writer-director Anne Emond’s sexually explicit “Nuit #1,” which won the Claude Jutra nod for achievement by a first-time feature filmmaker.

Stephane Thibault and Isabelle Lavigne’s “At Night, They Dance” won for the feature docu nod.

The Genie Awards ceremony was broadcast on pubcaster CBC, in a show hosted by CBC personality George Stroumboulopoulos. Actress and comedienne Andrea Martin was set to co-host but dropped out at the last minute because of a work committment.

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