By Adam Avrashi
CUP Arts Bureau Chief
MONTREAL (CUP) — Incendies was the big winner at last night’s 13th annual Soirée des Jutra, picking up nine awards including Best Picture.
While the cast and creative team were all smiles, director Denis Villeneuve said he was just happy the March 13 ceremony meant the awards season had come to a close.
“Now, I am sincerely tired,” said Villeneuve, winner of Best Director and Best Screenplay, after posing for photos with his cast. “I have only slept one hour in the last 36. People ask me how I am: Je suis brulé.”
Villeneuve is understandably burnt out. In the past month he has been doing continual press for Incendies and attending the Oscars, the Genies and now the Jutras.
Incendies made waves across Quebec and the rest of the world, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. The film is about twins Jeanne and Simon who embark on a journey to the Middle East to uncover the secrets their dying mother left behind. In the process, they find out who their real father and unknown brother are.
Incendies was nominated for 10 awards, but collected only nine Jutra statuettes as both the film’s matriarch Lubna Azabal and her onscreen daughter, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, were nominated in the Best Actress category. All was rectified, however, when the Belgian actress Azabal won the award, inviting her co-star to join her onstage and say a few words.
“I’m supposed to say thank you and I didn’t even win,” said a baffled Désormeaux-Poulin in front of the podium, who went on to thank the film’s producers and director.
Incendies may have swept the night, receiving awards for cinematography, costumes and art direction, among others, but the remaining acting categories shed a spotlight on some other well-deserving Quebec cinema.
Claude Legault won for Best Actor for his dramatic turn in 10 ½, where he played a rehabilitation counsellor for disturbed kids in the youth-protection program.
Best Supporting Actress went to Dorothée Berryman, winning her first Jutra statuette ever, for her role in the severely underrated comedy Cabotins, about a group of aging theatre actors on the decline that put on one last show.
In her acceptance speech, Berryman mentioned that Cabotins went mostly unseen when it came out in theatres and she hopes people get a chance to take it out on DVD.
Dressed in black and clutching her Jutra, she elaborated on this point backstage, specifically about anglophones watching French Quebec cinema.
“You can’t force anybody to see anything, but I wish that as in jazz, [French Quebec cinema] would be more universal and appeal to everybody,” said Berryman. “I’ve been lucky to be in films that have been seen around the world, The Decline of the American Empire or Les Invasions Barbares, so whether I’m in Toronto or Buenos Aires or New York, people know what that is, so then the language isn’t important.”
Berryman said the July release date wasn’t ideal for this film about misfits that includes actors Rémy Girard and Yves Jacques, the latter playing a drag queen.
“When we released Cabotins, it was the middle of the summer, I’m not sure it was a summer movie,” said Berryman. “It’s sentimental in a way; I feel it should have come out on Valentine’s Day. I hope people just get to see it and rent it at home.”
Taking home the award for Best Supporting Actor was the grandpapa of Quebec film, Jean Lapointe for his role in À l’origine d’un cri, about a young man who is forced to take a road trip with his grandfather to find his father who took off with the body of his dead wife. Lapointe was also honoured with the Jutra-Hommage, the lifetime achievement award.
Xavier Dolan was noticeably absent from the soirée, but picked up one award for his film, Les Amours Imaginaires. Dolan, who made last year’s Cannes favourite J’ai Tué Ma Mère, won a Jutra for the film that had the most success outside of Quebec.
As the evening drew to a close, and actors and directors got a chance to head to the Théâtre St. Denis bar, it was clear the celebration would continue into the night, but that the real prize would be relaxing after one of Quebec’s most acclaimed seasons in film.