'Laurence Anyways,' 'Midnight's Children' among top contenders

Foreign-language Oscar nominee “War Witch” has scored 12 Canadian Screen Award nominations, including motion picture, it was announced Tuesday by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television in Toronto.

The academy unveiled noms in 22 film, 89 TV and five digital media categories of the inaugural CSAs, which replace the Genies (film) and Geminis (TV), previously awarded at different times of year.

Other major CSA contenders include “Laurence Anyways” (10 noms) and “Midnight’s Children” (eight noms), both vying for best pic, and on the TV side drama “Flashpoint” received 11 noms, while comedy “Less Than Kind” nabbed 10.

The combined awards, something the industry has long clamored for, follows a major overhaul at the academy that began mid-2011 with the goal to better fulfill its mandate of promoting Canuck screen achievement.

Established more than 25 years ago, the Genies and Geminis were embraced by the industry, but never clicked with the Canadian public — “a reality we had to face,” explained academy chief executive officer Helga Stephenson.

“We realized breaking down the barriers between film, TV and digital, and pouring more resources into a stronger show would do more for the industry as a whole and create a better promotional vehicle,” she added.

The academy is also partnering with several orgs, including the Banff World Media Festival, to present the first Canadian Screen Week, launching Feb. 26, in Toronto. The industry confab includes the two off-air CSA award ceremonies and ends with the live broadcast awards gala March 3, hosted by comedian Martin Short.

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