“Ararat” Takes Five Genies while Cronenberg Wins Best Director
by Brian Brooks
Atom Egoyan’s “Ararat” swept Canada’s Genie Awards late last week giving the Miramax film five awards including best motion picture. “Ararat,” a contemporary “film within a film” about the Armenian massacre by the Ottomans, also won the award for best actress in a leading role for Arsinée Khanjian as well as for performance by an actor in a supporting role for Elias Koteas. The recognition for best director, however, went to David Cronenberg for “Spider,” about a schizophrenic, played by Ralph Fiennes, who leaves a London mental institution. The film also won the best Canadian feature film prize during the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival.
In other awards, Mario Azzopardi’s “Savage Messiah” won prizes for best performance by an actor in a leading role (Luc Picard) as well as best adapted screenplay for Sharon Riis. The film is the true story of a maniacal cult leader whose brutality on the commune he led rocked Canada in the late ’80s. Also receiving a Genie, writer-director Deepa Mehta’s Bollywood homage, “Bollywood/Hollywood,” won the best original screenplay award. The Genie for best documentary, meanwhile, went to Peter Mettler’s Vancouver Film Festival winner, “Gambling, Gods and LSD.” The film is a journey around the world examining the merging of fact and fantasy through snap shots of the coexistence of technology and divinity in India to evangelism at the Toronto airport. Best live action short drama was awarded to “I Shout Love,” while “The Hungry Squid” took best animated short.
The Genies were inaugurated in 1980 to honor achievement in Canadian film. Any certified Canadian film may be submitted for consideration for the awards. Following a nomination process, selected films are voted on by members of the Academy Cinema division. All eligible films were released in 2002.