Canadian Film Dreams of Genie Ratings In Ottawa

Canuck film awards returns to nation's capital for annual tribute to homegrown film.

TORONTO – The Canadian feds foot the bill for the local movie biz, so it makes sense for Ottawa to stage the 31st annual Genies, the country’s film awards, in its backyard.

"The Genie Awards are an important recognition for Canada's film industry of the talent and caliber of Canadian film - I am pleased that this year's Genie Awards show will cap a year of successful Canadian film screenings in Ottawa,” federal heritage minister James Moore said as plans for the Genies to return to the CBC network on March 10 were unveiled.

The nation’s capital also hosted the Genies in 2009, and with a possible federal election looming, the ruling Conservatives appear eager to sprinkle their generous patronage of Canuck films with a little stardust. 

Now the downside: with English-Canadian films securing a meager 1 percent of screen time at the local multiplex against Hollywood competition, the Genies in recent years has pulled in dismal ratings as an industry bull-horn for indigenous filmmaking.

And that's had broadcasters taking turns airing an annual industry kudosfest chronically on life-support audience-wise.

National TV network Global Television in 2005 had little success bumping up the ratings by staging the Genies as a Golden Globes-style dinner-theater show.

And last year’s Genies did little better airing live on the Independent Film Channel, and streaming on CBC.ca, the CBC’s website, ahead of repeats on the pay TV networks TMN and Movie Central.

But with the industry still dreaming of Genie ratings, it's the CBC's turn to air the film awards live this year, with federal pol James Moore as the impressario. 

Nominations for the Genies will be unveiled on Feb. 2.

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