Genies golden for Polley
Shut out at the Oscars, Sarah Polley’s Away From Here wins seven awards
This was one awards show that Sarah Polley wasn’t going to let get away from her.
First-time director Polley — whose heart-wrenching feature directing debut Away From Her came up empty at the Oscars last week (even in the best actress category it was favoured to win) — was the big winner at last night’s Genie Awards for Canadian movies.
The Alzheimer’s-themed love story, taken from Alice Munro’s short story The Bear Came Over The Mountain, received seven trophies from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. The awards were held last night at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Among them: Best Motion Picture, Direction (Polley), Actor (Gordon Pinsent), Actress (the also Oscar-nominated Julie Christie), Supporting Actress (Kristen Thomson) and Best Adapted Screenplay (a category for which Polley had earlier received an Oscar nom).
As well, Polley was the pre-announced recipient of the Claude Jutra Award for best feature film by a first-time director.
The seven wins was matched by Away From Her’s main competition, David Cronenberg’s Russian-mob crime thriller Eastern Promises. However, those wins were mainly in technical categories, including cinematography (Peter Suschitzky), editing (Ronald Sanders), original score (Howard Shore), overall sound (shared by five people) sound editing (shared by five people). It also garnered a supporting actor nod for Armin Mueller-Stahl and best original screenplay for Steve Knight.
Up and down at the podium all night, Polley acknowledged Atom Egoyan (who directed her in The Sweet Hereafter, and has produced her work) as her mentor. “The ridiculousness of me winning in this category is not lost on me,” she said as she accepted best director. “I would like to thank my fellow nominees for teaching me so much. And I would like to thank the first filmmaker who ever inspired me. Thank you Atom for everything. Without you, I wouldn’t be here.” She also joined in the Bill C-10 bashing, enthusing over living in a country that had allowed her “to find my own vision without pandering to committees.”
Producer Daniel Iron, who accepted the best picture award with Simone Urdl and Jennifer Weiss, joined in the love in. “We want to express our gratitude and awe to Sarah. The whole experience was a joy,” he said.
For his part, Cronenberg was gracious in surrendering the moment. “It’s fantastic for Sarah,” he said. “I cast her in one of my movies (eXistenZ) and she’s a fantastic actress and I’m not surprised that she turns out to be a wonderful director and writer also. We all knew that she was a star from the age of four. It’s not so horrible if whoever wins is someone you respect and admire.”
Another Oscar make-good was the animated short Madame Tutli-Putli, which won the Genie in its category for Maciek Szczerbowski, Chris Lavis and Marcy Page. Apres Tout won Best Live Action Short for Alexis Fortier Gauthier and Elaine Hebert, while Gary Burns and Jim Brown’s “urban sprawl documentary Radiant City won in its category.
Only three feature films managed to break into the Away From Her/Eastern Promises tug-of-war. Andrew Currie’s zombie comedy Fido won for art direction, Shake Hands With The Devil’s Valanga Khoza and David Hirschfelder won for Original Song with Kaya and Silk won a costume design award for Carlo Poggioli and Kazuko Kurosawa.
Genies golden for Polley