Atom Egoyan Wins Eight Canadian Oscars

Excerpted from The Toronoto Star

How sweet it was last night for Atom Egoyan and The Sweet Hereafter at the 18th annual Genie Awards for Canadian film.

The Toronto director and his "dark fable" about the aftermath of a small-town schoolbus tragedy won eight prizes–including best picture and best director–from its leading 16 nominations.

British actor Ian Holm received the best actor award for the same movie–for his role of a predatory lawyer seeking to turn community grief into cash–but he wasn’t at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel ceremony. Holm is in England making another film–so his award was accepted by one of his co-stars–Bruce Greenwood.

The Sweet Hereafter was also named tops for cinematography–editing–music–sound and sound editing.

A sweep of the top Genie categories was stopped by Vancouver’s Molly Parker–whose semi-clad performance as a necrophiliac in Kissed won her the best actress prize–over The Sweet Hereafter’s Sarah Polley and Gabrielle Rose.

Her acceptance speech included special thanks to a close friend named Nigel–"who taught me not to fear death–and more than that–to love life."

But Kissed–by Vancouver’s Lynne Stopkewich–won just one of its eight nominations. It was left hanging by Thom Fitzgerald’s The Hanging Garden–which came in second over-all.

The Halifax director’s debut feature won four awards out of 11 nominations–including best screenplay and the special Claude Jutra Award for direction of a first feature.

The Hanging Garden also harvested the supporting categories–winning both best supporting actress (Seana McKenna) and best supporting actor (Peter MacNeill).

McKenna and MacNeill play the parents of a rowdy east coast family attempting to come to grips with past ghosts. And a very pregnant McKenna–just two weeks from delivering her first baby–is now working on her real-life family.

Toronto producer Camelia Frieberg shares the best picture prize with Egoyan–who also won eight Genies in 1994 for his previous film–Exotica.

The Sweet Hereafter has been a major winner at this year’s film festival awards–from Cannes to Toronto–and it’s considered a solid bet for Oscar and Golden Globe nominations in the weeks ahead.

On Saturday–the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named The Sweet Hereafter runner-up in the best picture–best director and best cinematography categories–but it won no award outright.

Egoyan was elated to be lauded in his own country. He said Canadian film is in the midst of "a renaissance" that has brought international attention and acclaim.

"The world is waiting for the next film from this country that’s going to break through and so many have. It’s an exciting time."

But Egoyan also slammed as "ironic" the decision by the CBC and the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television not to televise the awards live for the first time–in a year when all eyes are on Canadian film.

"I think it’s a really good show–and I think they should get it back on the air," he said–to strong applause.LYON–France (Gamk)–Prime Minister Robert Kocharian–during his recent official visit to France–visited the Armenian community of Lyon–where he also participated in the inauguration of a new historical exhibit "Armenia from its Birth to the Fourth Century," Thursday.

Kocharian was accompanied on the visit to Lyon by various governmental officials–including French and Armenian diplomatic corps representatives.

Numerous community members attended the opening of the gallery–where General Governor of the Ron-Alp Province welcomed Kocharian.

The Roman Museum director Jacque Lafarc addressed the audience–welcoming the Armenian prime minister. He characterized the event as another step toward the improvement–as well as the continuation of centuries-long French-Armenian relations.

The prime minister also noted that he found the exhibit to be an educational resource in bringing the French and Armenian cultures together.

Kocharian and his wife Bella–then visited the various part of the exhibit–and the event ended with a dinner banquet in honor of the visiting Armenian official.

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