TORONTO – Montreal director Xavier Dolan’s Oscar hopeful “It’s Only the End of the World” and Space’s human cloning series “Orphan Black” lead the pack going into this year’s Canadian Screen Awards.
Dolan’s French-language drama, about a dying writer who returns home to his estranged family, topped the film category with nine nominations. They include best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay and best actor for French star Vincent Cassel.
“It’s Only the End of the World” is one of nine features being considered for a best foreign language film nomination at this year’s Academy Awards.
On the TV side, “Orphan Black” leads with 14 nominations, including best dramatic series, best direction, and best actress for Regina native Tatiana Maslany. The Emmy winner is also up for a second award, for best actress in a film for “The Other Half.”
The awards honour film, television and digital media titles in 134 categories and represent voices from across Canada, said organizers.
“I just think it’s pretty incredible that our motion picture category has films in four different languages,” said Beth Janson, CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, after the nominations were announced on Tuesday.
Other films with multiple nominations include the biopic “Race,” about American track star Jesse Owens, which is up for eight trophies including best picture and best actor for Toronto’s Stephan James.
Tied with six nominations apiece are: Bruce McDonald’s black-and-white coming-of-age tale “Weirdos,” Matt Johnson’s fake moon-landing documentary “Operation Avalanche” and Chloe Leriche’s “Before the Streets,” about an indigenous teen seeking redemption.
They’re all up for best picture, a field that also includes: Louis Belanger’s marijuana comedy “Bad Seeds”; Kevan Funk’s hockey drama “Hello Destroyer”; Johnny Ma’s Chinese taxi driver thriller “Old Stone”; Zacharias Kunuk’s Arctic epic “Searchers”; and “Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves,” by Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie.
“I think it’s great that there is that cross-section of somebody like Bruce, who is a veteran director and has been doing this for decades now, as well as movies like Kevan Funk and ‘Hello Destroyer,'” said Mike MacMillan, producer of “Weirdos.”
“It’s really great to see a diversity in the voices and the age ranges and the talents and the spaces that people come from.”
Funk called the recognition of up-and-comers like himself “heartening.”
“There is a very real movement of this generation of, I think, very interesting, exciting, young Canadian filmmakers, this new infusion of talent, and that’s a really exciting thing to be a part of,” he said.
Best documentary nominees are “Gulistan, Land of Roses,” “I Am the Blues,” “KONELINE: our land beautiful,” “The Prison in Twelve Landscapes” and “Waseskun.”
Other major TV nominees include the hit CBC comedy “Schitt’s Creek,” about a wealthy family adjusting to a more humble life in a small town. Its 13 nominations include best comedy series and best actor in a comedy for both Eugene Levy and son Dan Levy.
Another CBC hit comedy, the Korean-Canadian shop-owner tale “Kim’s Convenience,” has 11 nominations for its first season. Creator and writer Ins Choi said it caps an “overwhelming” response from fans.
“They love the show and its families and old people, young people,” said Choi.
“This one guy, he whittled a marionette that looked like (star) Paul (Sun-Hyung Lee) and brought it and gave it to Paul and … this other person made a (label for) a ravioli can based on an episode.”
Tied with nine nominations apiece are Bravo’s “19-2” and History’s “Vikings.”
Other notable nominees include “Game of Thrones” star Jason Momoa for “Frontier,” which has seven nominations.
The awards show will be broadcast live on CBC from Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on March 12. Canadian comedian Howie Mandel will host.
Oscar-winning actor Christopher Plummer will receive a lifetime achievement award at the show.
The academy recently rebranded with a new logo and a mission to promote homegrown talent.
“It’s the fifth year and it’s great what they’re doing,” said Gerry Dee, creator and star of “Mr. D,” which has six nominations.
“Just the logo change, I was telling them this looks good — it’s got the Canada highlighted, the ‘CA’ there.
“So I think Canadians are starting to realize we don’t need to go south.”