Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This is what is wrong with the Genies.

The Genie Awards celebrate what is best in this year's Canadian film. Much like Canadian music regulations, a lot of criteria must be met in order to consider a film "Canadian". Juno, the surprise hit of this year, was directed by a Canadian, starred Canadians, and was, for the most part, filmed in Canada. However, the financing came from an American company, and therefore it would likely not be eligible for any Genie awards. It was not submitted this year, most likely because it was known that it would have been turned down. But there were still some major films who were allowed in. Eastern Promises, Away From Her, Shake Hands With The Devil, and so forth. But here is the biggest problem I have. If we are celebrating all that is Canadian, why don't we simply do...that? For example:

Best director nominees: David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises), Denys Arcand (Days of Darkness), Roger Spottiswoode (Shake Hands With The Devil), Sarah Polley (Away From Her), and Bruce McDonald (The Tracey Fragments). OK. All great Canadians, all great nominees. But wouldn't this list look better were Jason Reitman, son of Canadian legend Ivan Reitman, on it for Juno? Best actor nominees: Claude Legauly (3 Little Pigs), Gordon Pinsent (Away From Her), Marc Labreche (Days of Darkness), Roy Dupuis (Shake Hands With The Devil), and Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises). Wait! Viggo Mortensen is American. did he get in there? Well, he was in a film (about the Russian mafia in London) that qualified as Canadian. To take nothing away from Mortensen - his was the best performance I have seen all year - where is Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl? Well, that FILM wasn't Canadian, even though Gosling is. So, you get an American actor nominated in the Canadian film awards, and he will likely win, taking away a richly deserved Genie from Gordon Pinsent.

Supporting actor nominees include Armin Mueller Stahl (who I think should get the Oscar) and Danny Glover. Mueller-Stahl is German, Glover is from San Francisco. And here is the problem. Frankly, I don't care who is from Canada and who isn't. I just want to watch the best performances by the best actors and best directors, regardless of their origins. But if the Genies want to be so fiercely pro-Canadian, why not do away with the rules, for the most part, and honour the Goslings, Reitmans, and James Camerons of the world when they do somthing great? Sure, keep your rules in place for the best picture award. That's an overall award, and I can understand some sort of regulation there. But why leave out fine directors, fine actors, fine cinematographers simply because they worked on a film that was financed by, say, MGM or Fox, and not Rogers or Jean Coutu? Then the Genies would go to the truly deserving. Like Jim Carrey in the Number 23...or Pamela Anderson in Borat...or...never mind.


  1. Hey Eric,

    I have been trying to get my head around this one too. I am struggling with the fact that Eastern Promises, as directed by a Canadian and starring an American (playing a Russian), an Australian and a German has been nominated for the Best British Film at the BAFTAs! Presumably on the grounds that it was filmed in London. Mind you, BAFTA don't seem to have ever heard of Sarah Polley, who failed to make their 14 strong nomination long list for either her direction or her screenplay for Away From Her, so they clearly don't have a clue anyway.


  2. Yeah, it's a bizarre mystery to me, as are most Canadian content regulations. The fact that Eastern Promises can be considered a British film, a Canadian film, and an American film all at the same time seems to indicate something is wrong.

    The Canadian content regulations are so strict and harsh that we fail to recognize many deserving things. But if Eastern Promises fulfills those harsh criteria, then one can only assume the BAFTA criteria are not nearly as stringent.

  3. It's all retarded is the problem. There's no way Juno would have ever gotten funding in Canada. You think that Serendipity Point or Lion's Gate (or the NFB or Telefilm for that matter) are going to fund a good movie that people actually watch? Please.