Halifax's Dream Genies

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On January 28, this year’s Genie nominations were announced, and there’s solid Halifax representation, thanks to Shake Hands With The Devil (12 nominations, including Best Motion Picture for Michael Donovan) and Poor Boy’s Game (with three noms), plus a Best Actress shout-out to Ellen Page for The Tracey Fragments. 


Joining the H-town red carpet crew on Monday, March 3 is Marc Almon, writer and director of Faire Chaluim Mhic Leid (The Wake Of Calum MacLeod), which debuted at the 2006 Atlantic Film Festival. The first Gaelic language short film produced in North America is nominated for Best Live Action Short Drama. Almon, along with the film’s producer Nona MacDermid, sent the application in five months ago, but hadn’t thought about it until last Monday when they heard the good news. So what does it take to be considered by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television?


“What the academy’s looking for is if your film has won any awards at film festivals and/or has it been screened for paying audiences at screenings outside of festivals,” says Almon. “Lucky, Calum had both, as we had a series of paid screenings, and some of the societies screened it, like AFCOOP’s Monday Night Movies and the Bridgewater and Cape Breton film societies. It’s very hard for short films to get screened in theatres nowadays.” 


Calum, which was purchased by CBC Television and will be broadcast on Bravo (and is also in negotiations with the BBC’s Gaelic Media Services for broadcast in the UK) was nominated for best drama at the Yorkton Short Film & Video Festival, and Almon won best emerging filmmaker at the St. John’s Nickel Independent Film Festival. But the work isn’t over: the challenge ahead is “how we promote the film to the academy members. There’s about 3,000---the ones that decide. Now we’re trying to figure how the system works.” 


Almon hopes that the exposure from the Genie nomination will help raise support for several new projects, including a half-hour project based on a short story by Alistair MacLeod that he would like see evolve into a series.


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