Bitter Irony: Most women Genie nominees get shafted on International Women’s Day

The Genie Awards were held last week on March 8 in Toronto to celebrate the best of Canadian cinema.  The Genies are best understood as the Canadian equivalent to the Oscars (though I hate saying it like that because not everything should be understood by comparison).  Back in January, I posted about the Genies after the nominations were announced, and I was happy to have seen so many women up for major awards!  But alas, one film seemed to sweep most of the big awards: Monsieur Lazhar, directed by Philippe Falardeau (which actually sounds like a pretty darn interesting film).

Larysa Kondracki’s The Whistleblower was up for Best Picture (with the picture’s two female producers Ceiline Rattray and Christina Piovesan); Kondracki was up for Achievement in Direction for The Whistleblower; Anne Émond was up for Original Screenplay for Nuit #1 as were Kondracki and Eilis Kirwan for The Whistleblower; Élaine Hébert, Sophie Goyette were up for Best Live Action Short Drama for their film La Ronde (the only all-female team for this category); Michelle Latimer’s Choke was up for Best Animated Short as were Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby, Marcy Page, Bonnie Thompson  for their film Wild Life.

It was only Anne Émond out of all the women nominees who walked away with a pretty big Genie: the Claude Jutra Award which goes to the year’s best feature by a first-time feature film director.  (Interesting she was up in the Original Screenplay category but awarded for her direction!)  It’s like other big film awards shows like the Oscars, Golden Globes or SAG Awards, in that a huge favorite like Monsieur Lazhar ends up with a number of awards.  Just look at this year’s Oscars with The Artist winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Costume Design and Music (Original Score). But I can’t fault a film, or the people who vote for it, for being a favorite, but it makes me wonder about how the Genies work.  Are they similar to the Academy Awards with lobbying for specific titles, sending out fancy screeners, taking out advertisements in trade publications like we see every year in Variety with artsy full-page displays offering Academy voters the standard “For your consideration” pick-up line?  I’m not sure, so I’ll have to look into this through some googling and chats with my Canadian friends.

About Nuit #1:

(from the Toronto International Film Festival description)

“Anne Émond’s dazzling debut feature is a bold and intimate study of a one-night stand. Clara and Nikolai meet at a sweat-soaked rave and end their night at his apartment. The first part of the film is an erotic and candid portrait of their lovemaking, but when Clara tries to sneak out without saying goodbye, this typical hookup takes an unexpected turn.”

The film, Émond’s first feature, was acquired by the Long Island City, New York-based Adopt Films (U.S. rights) following the Toronto International Film Festival last year.  A late July opening is expected.  Read the indieWIRE story from October 2011, and their prediction from January this year that Nuit #1 will be included in the list of films to be distributed through the recently inked Adopt Films and GoDigital theatrical/on demand distribution deal.  Nuit #1 was an official selection of the Goteborg, Rotterdam and Toronto and Vancouver International Film Festivals (Winner, Best Canadian Feature Film at Vancouver International Film Fest).

Writer/Director: Anne Émond

Producer: Nancy Grant

Distributor: Adopt Films

Filmmaker Anne Émond on the set of her film Nuit #1. Émond won the Canadian film industry's 2012 Claude Jutra Award (Genie Award).









About Anne Émond:

This film is Émond’s first feature-length work, having been preceded by her 2010 short film Sophie Lavoie (Winner, Best Short Film at Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema) and six other short films.  She is a Quebecois filmmaker based in Montreal (since 2011) who works in the French language.  (Sophie Lavoie will screen at the Seen and Heard Film Festival in Sydney, Australia, on March 15.)

Nuit #1 on Facebook

Anne Émond at Eye On Films

Read more on Adopt Films at

What’s sad, though, is the fact that a number of individual women as well as mainly female or all-female teams were up for big awards and only one of them was handed a Genie for their work.  I consider big awards as the ones in directing, best picture, screenwriting, cinematography.  There weren’t actually any women nominated in the Genies category for cinematography this year.  And to add insult to injury, this all played out on International Women’s Day on March 8.  Let’s celebrate women (like we’ve been doing on this day since 1977!)  And the winner is….. Monsieur Lazhar!  I’m not bitter, actually, I just find it to be completely coincidentally ironic while also being par for the course as far as major film awards ceremonies go.  Oh, and who do I speak to about getting Canada to broadcast the Genies on a Sunday evening when they’re not broadcasting the biggest American television shows day and date?  Thursday night Genie Awards?  My god, man, “30 Rock” is on at the same time, even in Canada!

Genie Awards nominations announced

In Canada, there’s an annual celebration of film called the Genies.  The Genie is Canada’s top award for achievement in cinema.  (Those who can’t understand its importance without reading “Canada’s version of the Oscars,” well, there you go, I just wrote it.  Understand now?  Good.)  Canada’s film industry is quite interesting, especially given the presence of Quebec which functions much like European countries do, pouring money (relatively speaking) into its indigenous film industry to support it, and seeing a pretty successful box office return.  Its French-speaking audiences go to see Quebecois French-language films.  But in the English-speaking areas of Canada (pretty much everywhere outside of Quebec), the Canadian English-language cinematic landscape is often savagely mowed over by crushing U.S. competition helped in part by the U.S. ownership of Canadian movie theatres.  That’s why I love to pay attention to stories like the Genie Awards nominations and the First Weekend Club‘s plan to introduce a VOD service to stream Canadian films in order to increase audiences and support for Canadian-made movies.

Today, the nominations for the Genies were announced.  See below for a full breakdown of the nominations — women who were involved in the films are highlighted below.  Some key names that jumped out at me were Larysa Kondracki (her film The Whistleblower is nominated for Best Motion Picture, she’s nominated for Achievement in Direction, and she and Eilis McKirwan are nominated for Best Original Screenplay).  Also, I was extremely glad to see that filmmaker Michelle Latimer’s film Choke was nominated for Best Animated Short.  Latimer gave an interview to Her Film back in April 2011 which you can read here: “Authenticity of Voice.”

2012 Genie Awards nominations (five nominees in each category)

BEST MOTION PICTURE / MEILLEUR FILM (Names indicate producers)

MONSIEUR LAZHAR – Luc Déry, Kim McCraw

THE WHISTLEBLOWER – Christina Piovesan, Celine Rattray 

Trailer for The Whistleblower


LARYSA KONDRACKI – The Whistleblower


ANNE ÉMOND – Nuit #1


Trailer for Nuit #1


BEAUTY DAY – Jay Cheel, Kristina McLaughlin, Kevin McMahon, Roman Pizzacalla


THE GUANTANAMO TRAP – Thomas Wallner, Amit Breuer, Patrick Crowe

LA NUIT, ELLES DANSENT / AT NIGHT, THEY DANCE – Isabelle Lavigne, Stéphane Thibault, Lucie Lambert

WIEBO’S WAR – David York, Nick Hector, C.C.E., Bryn Hughes, Bonnie Thompson


HOPE – Pedro Pires, Phoebe Greenberg, Penny Mancuso

LA RONDE – Élaine Hébert, Sophie Goyette


CHOKE – Michelle Latimer

WILD LIFE – Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby, Marcy Page, Bonnie Thompson

There were no female directors of photography nominated in the “Achievement in Cinematography” category.

See the full list of Genie nominees by clicking here.  (Opens a PDF).