‘Seducing’ leads Prix Jutra race

Laffer has 13 noms, 'Invasions' follows with 12

MONTREAL — Box office hit comedy “Seducing Doctor Lewis” and Denys Arcand’s “The Barbarian Invasions” are the leading contenders for this year’s Prix Jutra, the Quebec film awards announced Wednesday in Montreal.

“Seducing Doctor Lewis” snared 13 nominations, with “The Barbarian Invasions” a close second with 12. The two French-language pics, critical and commercial hits in French Canada, were widely expected to be the front-runners for honors.

“Seducing,” a Max Films production, was the No. 1 film of the year at the box office in Quebec, beating even the Hollywood hits, with an overall take of C$6.8 million ($5.3 million). “Invasions” also did boffo action in Quebec, with ticket sales of $3.9 million. It is also one of the biggest Quebec hits ever in France.

“Seducing” — the story of villagers in Quebec trying to attract a Montreal doctor — was nominated for film, director (Jean-Francois Pouliot), screenplay (Ken Scott) and actor (Raymond Bouchard). It just played at Sundance.

The Arcand pic, which is in the running at the Golden Globes as foreign film, was selected at the Jutras to compete for film, director and writer (Arcand), actor (Remy Girard) and actress (Marie-Josee Croze).

The sixth Jutra Awards will be handed out Feb. 22 in Montreal in a ceremony televised live on Radio-Canada.

The other major Jutra nominee is writer-director Louis Belanger’s “Gaz Bar Blues,” a look at a widowed father trying to hold together his family and run a gas station in Quebec City. That film landed 10 noms, including nods for film, director and writer (Belanger), and actor (Serge Theriault). The final competitor for the best pic Jutra is Robert Lepage’s “The Far Side of the Moon,” which had two other noms.

Writer-director Bernard Emond’s dark “20h17, Rue Darling” snared six nominations, including two for Emond as writer and director and another for Luc Picard as actor.

Gay-themed comedy “Mambo Italiano,” the only English-lingo pic in the Jutra race, garnered five noms, including one for Ginette Reno as actress.

A couple of prominent Quebec pics were close to shut out, notably hit romantic comedy “Nez Rouge,” which has a lone nomination for make-up, and bloody horror pic “Sur le Seuil,” which was nominated only for sound. (Dimension Films is remaking “Sur le Seuil” in English.)

It is expected to be a celebratory Jutra Awards, as 2003 was a record year at the box office for local pics: Quebec films nabbed an astonishing 20% of all ticket sales in the province.

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