Victory is ‘Sweet,’ with 8 Genie wins

MONTREAL —“The Sweet Hereafter” picked up eight trophies Sunday night at the Genie Awards, Canada’s answer to the Oscars. At a ceremony in Toronto, Atom Egoyan’s dark drama won for motion picture of the year and director (Egoyan), and included wins for actor (Ian Holm), cinematography (Paul Sarossy), editing (Susan Shipton) and original score (Mychael Danna).

Pic is playing commercially across Canada and in limited release in the U.S. via Fine Line Features.

But it was far from a sweep. The film was shut out in several key categories, a reflection of the relatively strong crop of Canuck pics this year. The hottest competition came from Halifax-based writer-director Thom Fitzgerald’s debut feature, “The Hanging Garden,” which ended the night with four Genie statuettes.

The pic, to be released in the U.S. by MGM, nabbed both supporting thesp nods, for Seana McKenna and Peter MacNeill. Fitzgerald took the nod for screenplay (which many pundits thought would go to Egoyan for his adaptation of the novel by American Russell Banks). “Garden” had already been announced by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television as recipient of the Claude Jutra Award for best first feature.

The actress trophy went to Molly Parker for Lynne Stopkewich’s “Kissed.” The only multiple winner other than “Hereafter” and “Garden” was the French-language vampire spoof “Karmina,” which garnered three behind-the-scenes awards, including a special make-up award for Pierre Saindon, art direction (Normand Sarrazin) and costumes (Denis Sperdouklis).

Other winners included original song, Luc Plamondon and Francois Dompierre, theme song for “L’Homme Ideal”; feature-length docu, Anne-Claire Poirier’s “Tu As Crie, Let Me Go”; and the Golden Reel Award, for top box-office performer, Charles Martin Smith’s “Air Bud.” “Hereafter” also won awards for sound and sound editing. Short nods went to docu “Unveiled: The Mother/Daughter Relationship”; animated “The Old Lady and the Pigeons”; and live-action drama, “The Hangman’s Bride.”

Federal film and TV funder Telefilm Canada, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, was given a special Genie to mark its longstanding support of the Canuck film biz.

Once again, French-lingo Quebec films fared poorly at the Genies, failing to win in any of the major categories, even though Gabriel Pelletier’s “Karmina” and Andre Forcier’s “La Comtesse de Baton Rouge” had 11 and 10 nominations, respectively.

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