MONTREAL — “Looking for Alexander,” a mind-stretching “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”-style pic about memory loss, was the big winner Sunday night at the Jutra Awards, the Quebec film prizes.
The sophomore pic from writer-helmer Francis Leclerc — son of legendary Quebecois chansonnier Felix Leclerc — won Jutras for best pic, editing, directing (Leclerc) and actor Roy Dupuis (“Nikita”), for his mesmerizing turn as a veterinarian who loses most of his memory after a hit-and-run accident in rural Quebec. The French-language pic is an Alliance Atlantis release.
“Looking for Alexander” was very much the underdog going into Sunday’s Jutras. It was far from the leading contender and had grossed much less at the domestic box office than the other major Jutra nominees. “Alexander” grossed a modest C$300,000 ($244,000) last fall in Quebec. But Alliance Atlantis will re-release it Friday to cash in on the Jutra buzz.
“It’s a vote of confidence for small-budget films,” said “Alexander” producer Barbara Shrier. “We’re the little guys.”
The leading contender going into Sunday’s gala was “Alys Robi: Bittersweet Memories,” with nine nominations. The biopic of 1940s Quebec pop star Robi, which was produced by “The Barbarian Invasions” producers Denise Robert and Daniel Louis, won five Jutras, but four were in behind-the-scenes categories. Its big winner was Pascale Bussieres, who took best actress for her perf as the troubled singer.
Offbeat romantic comedy “Love and Magnets” won three trophies, including writer-director Yves Pelletier for screenplay and thesp Sylvie Moreau as supporting actress. Moreau shared that honor with Brigitte Lafleur from “The Five of Us.” Jean Lapointe nabbed the supporting actor prize for his perf as a grizzled bank robber in gritty heist pic “Le Dernier Tunnel.”
“Barbarian Invasions,” which dominated last year’s Jutra Awards, took the hardware as the film with the most success outside of Quebec, the second consecutive year the Oscar-winning film has garnered that trophy. “Happy Camper,” a light trailer-park comedy, was given the Billet d’or as the top B.O. performer of the year. It grossed $3 million last summer.
“What Remains of Us,” Francois Prevost and Hugo Latulippe’s controversial doc about life in Tibet, won the documentary prize, and Christopher Hinton’s “Nibbles,” nominated for an Oscar last year, won the animated short Jutra.
The Jutra ceremony, broadcast live Sunday night on pubcaster Radio-Canada, included a tribute to seasoned director-cinematographer Michel Brault (“Les Ordres”).