Monsieur Lazhar Cleans Up At Genie Awards

Quebec film lost Oscar but took home the big statuette last night.

Jennifer Coxby Jennifer Cox

Quebec filmmaker Philippe Falardeau's project "Monsieur Lazhar" was honoured with six Genie Awards at last night's awards event, proving that it may not have won this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film but it's still a gem on Canadian soil.

"I wrote a speech two weeks ago and didn't have the chance to say it," Falardeau said upon accepting the award for best director (as reported by Postmedia News). "I'm tempted to recycle the first phrase: I'd like to thank the members of the academy – of Canadian television and cinema. Honestly, I'm privileged to live in a time and place where our public system makes it possible for us to make personal films. It's a choice we make as a society. Cinema is like the memory and the imagination of a country. So, without that, a country would not be a nation. I would like to share this with all my fellow filmmakers across Canada who are struggling to make personal films. I want to say to them – be persistent, be wild, be bold, be a little delinquent. Take risks and something good is bound to happen."

"Monsieur Lazhar" is the story of an Algerian teacher who is sent in to replace a teacher who died and, in the process, is trying to help the students recover from the death. The film stars Mohamed Fellag, who won the Genie for Best Actor, and 11-year-old up-and-comer Sophie Nelisse, who won the trophy for Best Supporting Actress. The flick also took home Genies for Achievement in Direction and Best Adapted Screenplay.