Oscar Contender 'War Witch' Wins Big at Canadian Screen Awards

"War Witch"
"War Witch"
 

TORONTO -- Quebec director Kim Nguyen's Congo child-soldier drama War Witch swept the inaugural Canadian Screen Awards on Sunday night.

The Oscar contender, which came into the Canadian film and TV awards with a field-leading 12 nominations, took top prizes for best film, best director, best actress for Rachel Mwanza and best supporting actor for Serge Kayinda.

The Canadian Screen Awards, which aired on the CBC network, were hosted by Martin Short, who kept the show lively with jokes like this: "I flew in on Air Canada, or as Ben Affleck calls it, American Airlines." (That, of course, refers to the recent controversy surrounding the portrayal of real-life events in Affleck's Argo, the Oscar winner for best picture.)

"My rock bottom is still your wildest dreams," Short said of winners after losing two categories, including best host. Later, when signing off, Short quipped: "It's better to have loved a Short than never to have loved a Tall."

Meanwhile, it wasn’t a good night in Toronto for Canadian film actors in the major performance categories, as both Mwanza, who won best-actress trophies at Berlin and Tribeca, and Kayinda are from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And American actor James Cromwell won for best actor for his star turn in the Canadian drama Still Mine, while Bollywood’s Seema Biswas won for best actress for her performance in Midnight’s Children.

War Witch also won in a slew of craft categories, including cinematography, editing and art direction.

The French-language film earlier snagged an Oscar nomination in the best foreign-language film category.

Also on the film side, Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways, which received 10 nominations, made do Sunday night with two trophies, for best costume design and best makeup.

In the TV categories, Less Than Kind won for best comedy, Flashpoint earned the Screenie for best drama, and the best international drama went to Showtime’s The Borgias.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television this year introduced a separate competitive category for best international series, so European costume dramas like The Borgias no longer dominated the annual awards show.

The Borgias, a Canada-Hungary-Ireland co-production about an Italian Renaissance crime family, won the best drama trophies at the former Gemini Awards in 2011.

Also on the TV side, Gerry Dee won for best comedic actor for his work on Mr. D, and Less Than Kind’s Wendel Meldrum won for best comedic actress.

Flashpoint’s Enrico Colantoni won the best TV actor prize, while Meg Tilly won the Screenie for best TV actress for her star-turn on Bomb Girls.

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