In Canada, awards shows always feel weird, and not in some woozy, surreal way. They're just kind of boring. The inaugural Canadian Screen Awards, a hybrid of the Genies and Geminis broadcast from the Sony Centre last Sunday, March 3, was no exception.
The incestuous back-pattiness of any awards show flies smack in the face of those qualities of modesty and humility that Canada likes to attribute to itself. Awards shows are like those people who plan birthday parties for themselves and then perform some awkward burlesque of surprise when their friends show up.
And Canadians just don't do glamour well. Compared to the Oscars, for example, the red-carpet glitz feels uncomfortable, like a kid lost inside his dad's oversized suit jacket.
So why do we bother?
Well, the flip side of all that humble self-effacement stuff is inferiority. There's a sense that we need an annual to-do for Canadian film and TV because other people have one.
This feeling dogged the Canadian Screen Awards, from host Martin Short's mugging song-and-dance routines that saw him fully embracing his role as Canada's Billy Crystal to some of the big winners.
On the film side, Kim Nguyen's Oscar-nominated Rebelle cleaned up, taking home banner prizes like best original screenplay, best actress, best director and best motion picture.
Rebelle, an okay movie about the indoctrination of a Congolese child soldier, cloaks its spiked sensationalism (it opens on patricide and doesn't get any sunnier from there) in a realist aesthetic. It's not as good as Xavier Dolan's Laurence Anyways, but it's a bit better than Deepa Mehta's Midnight's Children. Rebelle is mediocre, and awards shows thrive on mediocrity.
It's impossible to shake the sense that Rebelle was so abundantly rewarded here because, apart from being wholly so-so, it received so much attention from the American Academy in the form of a best foreign-language film nomination.
Earlier in the evening I ran into a friend near the buffet and took a quick inventory of the spread, making a joke about the vegan lasagna. "Well, you have to please everybody," she said.
And, yes, that pretty much sums it up.