By the time presenters took the stage to give away the evening’s final prize at the Leo Awards, it was almost a foregone conclusion.
The Devout won for best motion picture, hardly a surprise given that the film, about the reincarnation of an astronaut in the form of a baby, had already won four of the night's major awards, ultimately wrapping up five of the nine motion picture trophies overall.
Host/actor/boxer/DJ/dancer Zak Santiago took a decidedly serious tone during the presentations on Sunday (June 5). Whether or not that was the result of the Leo’s imposing a two bottles of wine per table limit is unknown, but Santiago made sure to constantly talk about the impact the nominees held on BC’s film industry.
There was still some excitement and humour to be found, however.
In a red-tinted room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel that reminded one of the kill rooms in Dexter, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra scored the evening, often with tunes that had nothing to do with the fare being acknowledged.
The audience didn’t seem to mind, as they generally didn’t clap to grant congratulations—they hooted and hollered.
The first award of the night played right into the rambunctiousness, as "Blue Jet", a Scorsese-inspired Emily Carr production, won for best student film. Producer Lawrence Lam excitedly took a picture of the crowd before claiming that “he came with one Leo and was going to leave with two.” Who knew astrology could be so titillating?
Following up Lam’s enthusiasm was Stephanie Bennett, winning for best supporting performance by a female in a television movie for her work in Stolen Dreams. She clearly didn’t expect to win – after all, she had probably the longest walk to the front of any winner, and it showed, as her acceptance speech was blissfully unprepared. “I don’t know what to say,” she said.
Many of the winners were absent, but some made up for it, like James Menard, who won for best cinematography in a television movie with R. L. Stine's Monsterville: The Cabinet Of Souls. In a written letter Menard thanked his producers for hiring director Peter Deluise who “had to hire me in order to keep certain photos I have of him off social media.”
The catcalling had impressive endurance, far outlasting the bottles of wine, as Matthew MacCaull was greeted with a holler of “hot!” when he took the stage.
Camille Sullivan won for best female performance in a short drama for "Victory Square" and promptly told the crowd that she was going to be emotional. She pulled it together quickly and left the stage on a memorable note: “let’s fucking legalize drugs already.”
Wearing a metallic dress and sporting a mohawk, Osric Chau was simply overjoyed when he won for best supporting performance by a male for Blood and Water. Chau talked about the challenge of being a minority actor. “They said we could not and we said why not,” stated Chau to the roar of the crowd.
Michael Eklund was one of the evening’s final presenters, and he didn’t disappoint. “Acting starts with the written word and actors create life,” he said. “When it’s done right, sometimes the brain doesn’t know the difference.” Upon presenting the award for best actor in a dramatic motion picture (to The Devout’s Charlie Carrick), he said that there was a “lot of damage done for those actors.”
Eklund teased the crowd when announcing the winner for best female in a motion picture, opening the envelope and pausing for a good five seconds before saying “I remember a long time ago she used to give me free coffee at Starbucks. Ali Liebert.” The Devout star was visually moved by the honour.
Upon winning the prize for best motion picture, The Devout producer Amanda Verhagen closed the evening out with perhaps the most fitting tribute to Vancouver possible: “Thanks to my parents for letting us shoot in their house.”
For a full list of the winners, go here