Genies nod to the good and the weak

The western component of the just-announced nominations for the Genies is a bit thin on the ground this year. Most crucially, Vancouver director Velcrow Ripper's ScaredSacred, about finding holiness in ravaged parts of the world, was the only English- language contender (of two entrants) for best documentary feature. He produced, along with locals Tracey Friesen, Cari Green, and Harry Sutherland. Composer Glen Buhr was noted in original song for his work on Winnipeg's Seven Times Lucky, which also boasted a comic turn from our own Babz Chula, nominated for best supporting actress.

The highest profile nod for a Vancouverite, for best actress, went to Gina Chiarelli, a deranged holy fool in See Grace Fly-which many of us saw roughly three years ago. Both the calendar and geography played tricks on us this time around. B.C.'s surest shot at best picture, It's All Gone Pete Tong, was made in England and Spain with a mostly British cast. Another major effort, Water, was fashioned in Sri Lanka, with director Deepa Mehta and some of her crew providing the Canadian content.

(Thanks to somewhat byzantine rules, films are eligible for Genie Awards-given annually by the Academy of Canadian Film and Television-if they have played theatrically within the previous year and have a certain percentage of Canadians behind the project.)

For once, a Quebec film not directed by Denys Arcand by far leads the pack with a dozen nominations. That would be C.R.A.Z.Y., with nods for Jean-Marc Vallée-who directed, produced, and cowrote the funny coming-of-age memoir-producer Pierre Even, and for the editor, sound editors, costume designer, and three of its many actors. Significantly, Michel Cíƒ ´té and Marc-André Grondin, playing macho father and gay son, will be splitting the vote for best actor.

Water also rushed in, with nine nominations; only Seema Biswas was singled out for acting, as a Benares widow who questions her station in life. And Pete Tong went with eight, including a best-actor nod for Paul Kaye as the Ibiza deejay who gradually goes deaf but finds something else to rock his world. Oddly, Tong also got two nods for sound, and Fubar maker Michael Dowse was fíƒ ªted for both his script and direction.

Other multiple contenders include several French-Canadian efforts virtually unseen outside their home province. Getting seven nominations each are L'Audition, starring director Luc Picard, and Louise Archambault's Familia, about Franco-Italians in the suburbs. (Veteran actors Sylvie Moreau, Macha Grenon, and Micheline Lanctíƒ ´t are all up for prizes here.) Erik Canuel's Le Survenant and Luc Dionne's epic Aurore are both up for five, with the latter boasting the great Rémy Girard in a nominated supporting role.

Also handed five each are the aforementioned Lucky, Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies, and Saint Ralph, an unconvincing period dramedy with a weak lead from nominated teen Adam Butcher. Arsinée Khanjian, in a rare step outside hubby Egoyan's realm, got a well-deserved best-actress nomination for the mostly overlooked Sabah: A love Story.

Perhaps the most obviously snubbed effort here is The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico, a whip-smart mock rockumentary that should have grabbed editing and other technical nominations and a big strum for lead actor Matt Murphy, who was at least noted in the two music categories, along with writer-director Michael Mabbott. Chances are they will perform at the live awards show, airing at 9 p.m. on March 13 on Citytv.