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The story of a Quebec boy tackling the pain and vagaries of adolescence, accompanied by a soundtrack of David Bowie, Pink Floyd and even his father's Patsy Cline records, was the runaway winner at last night's 26th annual Genie Awards.

Canada's version of the Oscars awarded the acclaimed film and box-office hit C.R.A.Z.Y. 10 Genies yesterday in such categories as best picture, best director to Jean-Marc Vallée, best leading actor to Michel Côté and best screenplay, which Mr. Vallée shared with François Boulay.

It also won the Golden Reel Award for the Canadian film with the highest domestic box office last year, grossing more than $6.2-million in Canada.

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At a comfortable black-tie-optional event at the Carlu, a recently restored theatre in Toronto, the accolades continued for C.R.A.Z.Y.

The movie was a driving force behind another boom year for French-Canadian cinema, which had a 30-per-cent jump in ticket sales in Quebec last year compared with a strong 2004, according to a report issued earlier this year from industry tracker Cinéac of Montreal. The movie contributed around 25 to 30 per cent of Quebec's total box-office last year.

"I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve," Mr. Vallée said. Yet "I'm a little frustrated. I wish we had more screens outside Quebec."

The wide appeal of C.R.A.Z.Y. could be a product of how universal teenage problems are intertwined with rock music.

"Before I would have thought it was just [about]Quebec. But in Italy, in France, in Spain, and Maroc [Morocco] a lot of people say it's like that," said Danielle Proulx, who won the best-supporting-actress prize for her role as the mother in the film.

C.R.A.Z.Y. was by far the lead contender heading into the evening with 12 nominations.

It shared some of the spotlight with Toronto-based filmmaker Deepa Mehta's Water, which delves into the oppression of widows in traditional India. Water had received nine nominations, including one for best picture, but wound up with three Genies yesterday. Indian actor Seema Biswas, who played one of the widows, won the best-actress prize, while the prolific Canadian composer Mychael Danna, who also composed the soundtrack for Capote, won best original score for Water.

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Filmed in Sri Lanka after the opposition of conservative Hindu groups in the holy city of Varanasi on the Ganges forced the film set to shut down there, Water has been strongly praised for its photography. Its director of photography Giles Nuttgens won for best cinematography last night.

Another film with numerous nominations -- eight in total, including best picture -- was It's All Gone Pete Tong, a mock-documentary about a British DJ who lives a life of massive, comedic overindulgence and winds up going deaf. Well received by critics, it walked away empty-handed yesterday. Saint Ralph, about a boy training for the Boston marathon and also nominated for best picture, also got bowled by the C.R.A.Z.Y. express.

Conspicuously absent was Toronto filmmaker David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. Under the rules of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, which administers the Genies, it was classified as being an American-financed film and didn't qualify. Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies did qualify, however, and won best adapted screenplay.

The Genie Awards ceremony itself has struggled to find the right format in recent years, as the public's appetite for award shows continues to dwindle. Circular tables made for awkward logjams in past years as winners tried to make their way to the stage.

And the predominance of Quebec films and French acceptance speeches made for uneven telecasts. This time, CHUM decided not to air the awards ceremony at all, but only an after-party special featuring interviews with the winners, stars and highlights of the awards show.

The winners

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Best film C.R.A.Z.Y.

Art direction, production design Patrice Vermette, C.R.A.Z.Y.

Costume design Ginette Magny, C.R.A.Z.Y.

Cinematography Giles Nuttgens, Water

Direction Jean-Marc Vallée, C.R.A.Z.Y.

Editing Paul Jutras, C.R.A.Z.Y.

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Music, original score Mychael Danna, Water

Music, original song Glenn Buhr, Margaret Sweatman for When Wintertime from Seven Times Lucky

Actor in a leading role Michel

Côté, C.R.A.Z.Y.

Actor in a supporting role Denis Bernard, L'audition

Actress in a leading role Seema Biswas, Water

Actress in a supporting role

Danielle Proulx, C.R.A.Z.Y.

Overall sound Yvon Benoît, Daniel Bisson, Luc Boudrias, Bernard Gariépy Strobl, C.R.A.Z.Y.

Sound editing Martin

Pinsonnault, Mira Mailhot, Simon Meilleur, Mireille Morin, Jean-François Sauvé, C.R.A.Z.Y.

Original screenplay Jean-Marc Vallée, François Boulay,

C.R.A.Z.Y.

Adapted screenplay Atom Egoyan, Where the Truth Lies

Documentary ScaredSacred

Live action short drama Milo 55160

Animated short cNote

Golden Reel Award C.R.A.Z.Y.

Claude Jutra Award Louise

Archambault, C.R.A.Z.Y.

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