I take back four fifths of everything I said; the party last night for the 24th Annual Genies was all in all, more or less, not completely, totally train-wreck-torture awful. And to be perfectly honest, what more could you possibly hope for from a Canadian movie awards show?
It’s a classic jolly happy ending-type story: rock bottom expectations transformed into a genuinely bearable outcome. Everybody gets a free meal and tons of drinks, as well as an enormous coffee table top-sized souvenir program and toddles off home relieved that they didn’t embarrass themselves, though somewhat saddened that no one else did either.
My friend and I decided to arrive halfway through the opening cocktailer, espying Mayor David Miller cruising around in a decidedly spectacular tuxedo (like the Genies - and particularly after following Mel Lastman – expectations for city leadership were snake’s-belly-in-a-wagon-rut low, low, low… so we’re all terribly pleased and surprised that Hizzoner has turned out to be not just a thoughtful, able man, but a bit of a dish to boot) as well as Denys Arcand and his pretty producer/wife, schmoozing and smiling, gliding through the lobby party as if they had already won the awards they eventually received. Confident – Canadian…perhaps those two words are about to loose their mutual exclusivity!
So there we were, she in the navy Armani and orange stilettos (abandoning the kitten fur-wedding cake rosette-trimmed sandals we had so exhaustingly – and expensively - dug up days before) tall and imperious on the outside, silly and ready for a giggle on the inside, and me in my fifteen year old velvet skirt, ten year old Marks and Sparks jersey halter, and Winner’s on sale sleeveless black ruffled tuxedo blouse tied jauntily at the waist. (I was going for the Sharon-Stone-wearing-her-husband’s-dress-shirt-knotted-over-Chanel-floor-length-silver-skirt-to-the-Oscars look. I may not have succeeded, but neither did anyone point and laugh. Certainly no one I saw.)
We made the rounds – she knows everybody but has no actual, measurable memory skills whatsoever, so all I can tell you is we did meet some awfully nice people who may or may not have been famous. I did recognize one intense looking young man as the star of CTV’s Eleventh Hour (I never watch, but then, they never stop running promos) who personified the Merv Griffen measure of potential fame by having a giant head. (There were a lot of giant heads at the sparkling do, not the least – or smallest of which – was mine, so the theory isn’t absolute per se…)
By the time people were starting to drift into the gigantic Metro Convention Centre ballroom wherein the eating and awards giving and taking was to be held, the g.f.’s hem, caught in the ankle strap buckles of the tangerine dream shoes, was going south at an alarming rate, so we made a quick detour to the makeup-cum-greenroom for some fast and furious double sided taping, as well as a quick swipe at our under eye circles with a miraculous concealing cream the make-up ladies were happy to dispense. Since I technically (!) was not going to appear on the show, it was a bit of cheek to demand equal concealing time with my Documentary Award presenting friend, but as it turned out, I must have been prescient; according to a friendly viewer (my accountant) I was the opening audience shot alongside Sarah Polley, and figured prominently in audience captures throughout the evening!
After my star turn, the show was understandably a bit of an anticlimax – though I’ll mention Scott Thompson was an absolutely first rate host (a nice guy too – I met him in the greenroom and was surprised to find him genuinely interested in meeting me and talking to the g.f., and not obsessing about his hair or his lipstick and looking for someone to blame should it all go up in flames as I certainly would mere moments before the show), the dais itself was the absolute acme of sophistication and grown-up awards show staging, and the promos setting up each award category and acted by some seriously talented young unknowns, were both wry and dry – the perfect Canadian humour combo.
The content I can skip over quickly – French, French and French – The Barbarian Invasions taking the vast majority of the prizes and other worthy French Canadian films picking up most of the rest. The g.f. with onstage partner LeVar Burton (whom I’m absolutely sure winked at me when we met… perhaps my cobbled together old clobber was more alluring than I originally thought!) did a splendid job of pronouncing awkward names before handing over the hardware for best doc.
My seatmate and co-star in the opening show shot, Sarah Polley picked up the best actress award and gave a charming speech that combined humble gratitude with an eloquent plea for deserving Canadian films to receive more support. I’d tell you more, but I was sweetly distracted; caught up in watching Polley’s husband – smallish and fair and quite shy… the male Sarah essentially – gaze at his wife in slack-jawed, gob-smacked admiration and delight. (He himself had won a craft award Genie for editing earlier in the evening, so I imagine the two winning young lovers were destined for a little mutual figure polishing later that night…)
So there you have it – all you need to know now is that as our two heroines drifted off contentedly into the dark Toronto night, the skies waited until I was getting out of the taxi before pissing all over me in a drenching rain shower. But I didn’t mind – I don’t care: I was sure that was all bound to happen hours before when I first entered the convention centre.
So I’m pleased to report that Canadian movie stars and producer/director types couldn’t be nicer – especially to an unknown, non-movie biz bod like moi. Though it’s just possible they were treating me as a peer, suspecting that which I didn’t know until I got the email from my accountant this morning – that I was destined to become the star of the whole damn thing.