If he left Los Angeles last month feeling down for losing the best foreign film Oscar to Iran’s A Separation, Montreal director Philippe Falardeau must have felt validated last night. His film Monsieur Lazhar was the most honoured movie at the Genie Awards, taking home six trophies, including best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay.
The movie, inspired by a play called Bashir Lazhar, is the story of a grieving man from Algeria who replaces a dead teacher at the head of a elementary school class in Montreal. It has garnered much praise from movie critics and audiences. “Cinema is the memory and imagination of a country, so without that our country would not be a nation,” said Falardeau after collecting his trophy for best director at the ceremony in Toronto. “I would like to share this with all my fellow filmmakers across Canada who are struggling to make personal films. I want to say to them be persistent, be wild, be bold, be a little delinquent, take this and something good is bound to happen.”
Another big winner at the Genies was the film A Dangerous Method, directed by David Cronenberg and starring Hollywood heavyweights Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortenson, who was on hand to win best supporting actor for his portrayal of Sigmund Freud in the film.
It wasn’t the Oscars, but with films such as these on display—not to mention others like Café du Flore and Starbuck—it might be safe to say that Canadian movie-makers punched above their weight last year.