Genie awards show ignores "Juno"

Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:14am EST
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By Etan Vlessing

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - Any film awards show overlooks good movies. But among the glaring omissions at next Monday's Genies, Canada's version of the Oscars, is "Juno." The box office smash was shot in Vancouver by a Canadian director, Jason Reitman.

The comedy about a 16-year-old girl's pregnant path to enlightenment stars Ellen Page and Michael Cera, both also Canadian.

Don't blame Genie voters for the snub. The rule book requires that some of a film's production budget must come from Canada for it to be deemed a Canadian film.

Because L.A.-based Mandate Pictures developed and financed "Juno" and Fox Searchlight released the comedy, the Genies considers the film American and thus ineligible for competition.

Canada's film awards really falls down the rabbit hole into Wonderland when you consider that "Eastern Promises," a British film about a Russian mob family in London, and directed by hired-gun Canadian David Cronenberg, will contend for best Canadian film at the Genies.

Reitman, attending a pre-Oscars luncheon at the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles last week, told reporters he was puzzled by the selection process.

"It's a Canadian director, Canadian stars, Canadian cast, Canadian crew, shot in Canada -- how are we not eligible for a Genie when David Cronenberg's film about Russians living in London shot in England with a British crew and British cast is eligible? I'm sorry, but somebody is going to have to explain that to me; I don't get it," he said, with proud father Ivan Reitman at his side.

Well, "Eastern Promises" is a British film. But because the film's co-producer, Toronto-based Serendipity Point Films, steered enough Canadian subsidies to make up about 20% of Cronenberg's production budget, the Genies dipped "Eastern Promises" in maple syrup and gave it 12 nominations.

The message: Leave it to other awards shows to honor filmmaking excellence, whatever its origins. The Genies celebrate government support.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

<p>Juno star Ellen Page smiles at a Fox Searchlight pre-Oscar party in Los Angeles February 22, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>