|In the fourth year of this series, expect me to interview filmmakers and photograph film and TV productions — Fifty Shades of Grey, Age of Adaline, Once Upon a Time, Arrow, Supernatural, Bates Motel and our own Continuum and Motive — which showcase our city and sometimes put a celebrity actor or two in the frame. Find out more on my daily blog yvrshoots.com.|
Homegrown actors Zak Santiago, Pascale Hutton, Christopher Heyerdahl and Beverley Elliott are set to host a Leo-palooza of awards this weekend, stretched over three nights at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver to honour the very best of B.C.-made film and television. It’s hard to choose which night to attend at the 16th annual Leo Awards, but Sunday is the big one with nine B.C. films, led by Ben Ratner’s Down River, contesting for Best Motion Picture and not one but two Vancouver television shows — Continuum season two and Motive season one — up for Best Dramatic Series. If that’s not enough star power for you, maybe the Arrow himself will make a surprise appearance — Stephen Amell is nominated for his lead performance as the hooded-hero of the American hit series. For tickets, click here.
BC Film had a very good year boasting an unprecedented nine nominees in the Best Motion Picture category: Ben Ratner’s Down River, inspired by his long friendship with the late Vancouver actress Babz Chula, has thirteen nominations overall; Matthew Kowalchuk’s feel-bad buddy comedy Lawrence & Holloman has nine; Jason James’s STD rom-com That Burning Feeling has nine; the Harmon family’s If I Had Wings has seven; Ana Valine’s mother-and-daughter con movie Sitting on the Edge of Marlene has seven; A. J. Bond’s dark comedy Stress Position has seven; Brent Butt’s comedic film noir No Clue has five; Terry Miles’s Gastown drama Cinemanovels has 4; and Gil Bellows and Tony Pantages’s Hitchockian thriller 3 Days in Havana has three. The other big film nominees — but not for Best Motion Picture — are Karen Lam’s horror thriller Evangeline with nine nominations overall; Merlin Dervisevic’s AA-style purgatory Cruel & Unusual with four; Bruce Sweeney’s sports shock jock satire The Dick Knost Show with two; and Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium with two.
Down River comes off several weeks of theatrical release in Vancouver (and Toronto) and tells the story of an older woman named Pearl (Helen Shaver) who guides three younger talents — artist Aki (Ratner’s wife Jennifer Spence), rock singer Harper (Colleen Rennison) and actress Fawn (Gabrielle Miller) – who live in her West End building. When Pearl gets ill with cancer and unexpectedly leaves their lives, the three are forced to face the future on their own. Ben Ratner is nominated for directing and writing his film; Helen Shaver for her lead performance and Jennifer Spence, Colleen Rennison and Brian Markinson for supporting roles; plus six other nominations.
Adapted from a play, Lawrence & Holloman is a darkly funny, sometimes insane buddy comedy about Lawrence (Ben Cotton), a boundlessly-optimistic lewd-and-crude department store suit salesman for whom everything goes right – until he meets Holloman (Daniel Arnold), a suicidal credit collector and malcontent, and suddenly everything goes wrong. Very wrong. Matthew Kowalchuk is nominated for directing and co-writing the film adaption; Daniel Arnold and Ben Cotton for their lead performances and Katharine Isabelle for her supporting role; plus four other nominations.
Adam Murphy (Paulo Costanzo) is the charming womanizer with just about everything who wakes up one morning with the one thing nobody wants — That Burning Feeling. Tyler Labine is nominated for his supporting performance as the wild man neighbour (which stole the movie); plus six other nominations.
If I Had Wings is a Harman family production with mother Cynde producing and father Allan directing son Richard as a blind high school track runner and daughter Jessica as his coach. Richard Harmon and Jaren Brandt Bartlett are nominated for their lead performances and Lorne Cardinal, Genevieve Buechner and Jessica Harmon for their supporting performances, plus one other nomination.
Adapted from the Billie Livingston novella, Sitting on the Edge of Marlene is about teenager Sammie Bell (Paloma Kwiatkowski) drawn into the family con business by her messed-up mother Marlene (Suzanne Clément) while they wait for her father (Callum Keith Rennie) to get out of prison. Ana Valine is nominated for her directing and writing; Paloma Kwiatkowski for her lead performance; plus four other nominations.
Psych-experiment-gone-wrong Stress Position is about a bet between two friends — filmmaker A.J. Bond and actor David Amito — over who can best withstand a week of psychological torture at the hands of the other. A. J. Bond is nominated for his directing, David Amito for his lead performance, plus four other nominations.
She’s the Damsel. He’s in Distress. No Clue is a comedic homage to film noir about a bumbler (Brent Butt) who pretends to be a hard-boiled detective so that a blonde bombshell (Amy Smart) will spend time with him. No Clue took about three years to get into production in Vancouver and filmed here in the fall of 2012 directed by Carl Bessai.
Inspired by Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors Trilogy, Cinemanovels follows Grace (Lauren Lee Smith) as she reluctantly gets to know her estranged and famous father John Laurentian after his death by agreeing to curate a restrospective of his art cinema films. It’s an anti-romance with Grace married to an oblivious investment banker (Ben Cotton) but beautifully shot on location in Gastown by the director, who also hung the lights and did craft service, joked his cast. Terry Miles is nominated for his directing and writing; and Lauren Lee Smith for her lead performance, plus one other nomination.
Shot mainly in Cuba, Gil Bellows and Tony Pantage’s Hitchockian twister 3 Days in Havana is about Jack Petty (Gil Bellows), seemingly a Canadian on a routine business trip who is befriended by charming rogue Harry Smith (Greg Wise) and introduced to untrustworthy characters like Anders (Christopher Heyerdahl) from the Canadian Consulate. Gala host Heyerdahl is nominated for his supporting performance, plus two other nominations.
While not nominated for Best Motion Picture, Evangeline picked up 9 nominations for its horror thriller about student Evangeline (Kat de Lieva) attacked and left to die by a gang of killers, who is saved by ancient demon and empowered to seek vengeance. Kat de Lieva is nominated for her lead performance, plus eight other nominations.
Also not making the cut for Best Motion Picture: Cruel & Unusual earned four nominations, including one for Michelle Harrison’s supporting performance as a mother who commits suicide; sports shock jock satire The Dick Knost Show got two nominations, one for Bruce Sweeney’s directing and the other for perennial Leo Award winner Gabrielle Rose’s lead performance; and Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium earned two nominations for its stunning visual effects and stunts.
Alberta-shot Blackstone is the third most-nominated series with seven.
Arrow may be an American series but it is filmed here and many of its cast and crew are homegrown earning six Leo nominations. Star Stephen Amell picked up a surprise lead performance nomination, as did breakout IT gal Emily Bett Rickards. The other big Arrow nominee is stunt coordinator J. J. Makaro, fight coordinator James Bamford and the rest of the kickass Arrow stunt team. A campaign is underway to get this group a well-deserved Emmy nomination — and win.
Modern fairy tale series Once Upon a Time and Witches of East End are the other two filmed-in-Vancouver American shows nominated as Best Dramatic series. Once Upon a Time also picked up a visual effects nomination for its Neverland-themed episode and Supernatural for its season eight finale. Almost Human earned a nomination for production design on its sex-bots episode, partly filmed in the Waterfall Building.
Hacker television movie Delete picked up ten nominations, including lead performances by Erin Karpluk and Keir Gilchrist and supporting performance by Ryan Robbins (who also picked up a guest performance nomination for his turn as a John on The Killing).
Grownup sitcom Package Deal, which tapes in front of a live studio audience in Burnaby, garnered a program nomination as a comedy series for its first season.
Teen sitcom Mr. Young scored a parting nomination as Best Youth Series for its final season, joined by its sitcom successor Some Assembly Required plus Spooksville and R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour.
For a complete list click on Leo Awards nominees.