Financing blamed for disqualification, but Academy says film was never submitted|
by Marke Andrews, Vancouver Sun, published on Friday, February 29, 2008
Anyone who looked over the nominees for Monday night's Genie Awards would have noticed a significant title missing from the list of Canada's best films from 2007: Juno.
Here was an Academy Award-nominated movie shot in Vancouver by a Canadian director, a Canadian crew and with two Canadians among the lead actors, and not a single nomination. The $6.5-million comedy about a pregnant teen, played by Ellen Page, has been one of the year's box-office successes.
The Hollywood Reporter, a Los Angeles trade publication, certainly noticed. On Thursday, it ran a story on the oversight, blaming the Genie rule book -- particularly rules pertaining to film financing -- as the reason Juno was snubbed. Because the film was financed in the U.S. by Los Angeles-based Mandate Pictures and released by mini-major U.S. studio Fox Searchlight, with no Canadian funds put into the film, it failed to meet the Genie standards of what constitutes a Canadian feature film.
The story quoted Montreal-born Juno director Jason Reitman complaining about his film not making the cut, while Eastern Promises -- a co-production shot in England with an international cast and directed by Canadian David Cronenberg -- received 12 Genie nominations.
"It's a Canadian director, Canadian stars, Canadian cast, Canadian crew, shot in Canada," Reitman said at a pre-Oscars lunch at the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles last week. "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."
Well, someone from the Genies has an explanation for Reitman: Juno was never submitted to the Genies for consideration.
"The production company did not enter Juno into the competition," said Chris McDowall, spokesman for the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and the Genie Awards, which will be presented Monday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
"The Academy didn't even have a chance to evaluate it for its Canadian eligibility, because they did not receive the submission," said McDowall, adding that he wasn't sure if Juno would have qualified had it been submitted.
"Financing is one of the [rules] criteria, but it's not everything," said McDowall.
In a statement, Academy CEO Sara Morton confirmed Juno was never submitted for Genie consideration, adding that "in order to be eligible for the Genies, a film must be Canadian as defined by CAVCO and the CRTC."
A check with the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office (CAVCO) failed to turn up the specific financing rules.
Candice Grabois, director of marketing and publicity for Mandate Pictures, said she could not comment on the controversy.
A call to Fox Searchlight Picture's publicity department was not returned by deadline.
The Hollywood Reporter story stated that Eastern Promises met the financing criteria because the Canadian co-producer, Toronto's Serendipity Point Films, raised 20 per cent of the budget in Canada.