At the fourth and final night of the Canadian Screen Awards, Quebec filmmaker Sophie Deraspe’s Antigone, a modern adaption of the ancient Greek play, won best picture, along with four other awards.
The film — which was also Canada’s submission for the Oscars’ best international feature — saw five trophies total at Thursday’s virtual ceremonies, tying fellow Quebec filmmaker François Girard’s The Song of Names for most awards.
The CSA’s in-person ceremonies were originally set for March 29, but were cancelled shortly before due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The awards, administered by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, recognize excellence in Canadian television, digital media and film.
Alongside best film, Antigone was awarded best lead actress for Nahéma Ricci, best supporting actress for Nour Belkhiria, as well as best adapted screenplay and best editing. The film follows Ricci, who portrays a teenage girl whose family arrived in Montreal as refugees, after an incident involving her brothers inspires a viral social movement.
Ricci had no formal training in acting before being cast in Antigone, though was chosen as one of TIFF 2019 “Rising Stars” after the film’s Canadian premier at the festival.
WATCH | Antigone director Sophie Deraspe on making the film:
Though she adapted the story from the fifth century BC play by Sophocles, Deraspe has said she was also inspired after reading an article about the killing of 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva in Montreal in 2008.
Girard’s Song of Names follows childhood friends during and long after the Second World War, one of whom is a Jewish violin prodigy. It was scored by Oscar-winning composer and Toronto-native Howard Shore, and the majority of the film’s awards reflect its focus on music.
Shore won for both best original song and best original score, while the film was recognized for both achievement in sound editing and achievement in overall sound. The film was also awarded for achievement in makeup.
Following The Song of Names and Antigone, two films captured three awards each — The Twentieth Century, an absurdist retelling of Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s early years, and the single-shot drama The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open.
The Twentieth Century is director Matthew Rankin’s first feature-length film, and — though largely fictionalized — draws from Mackenzie King’s prodigious diaries. It won for art direction, costume design, and achievement in hair.
The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open was co-directed and co-dritten by Kathleen Hepburn and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, and Tailfeathers also stars in the film. It consists of one continuous, unbroken shot, and follows two Indigenous women (Tailfeathers as Áila and newcomer Violet Nelson as Rosie) as they meet on a Vancouver street corner.
WATCH | The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open directors on the film’s message:
It deals with issues of domestic abuse, colonialism, and motherhood. The film was awarded for best direction, original screenplay, and cinematography. The movie also won the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award in late 2019, which comes with $100,000 — Canada’s largest film prize.
Every other film honoured received a single award. Republic of Doyle star Mark O’Brien got a best lead actor nod for his role as Terry Sawchuk in the biographical drama Goalie, while director Heather Young won the John Dunning best first feature film award for Murmur.
WATCH | The final night of the Canadian Screen Awards:
Thursday’s event marked the close of this year’s CSA events, after digital ceremonies throughout the week. CBC’s The National and The Accountant of Auschwitz led the first night of awards, while CTV’s The Amazing Race Canada received six trophies on Tuesday.
Wednesday saw the academy honour a number of TV shows which have or soon will air their final season, including Cardinal, Schitt’s Creek, Anne With An E and Baroness von Sketch Show.
The full list of winners can be found on the Canadian Screen Awards website.