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Sophie Deraspe's Antigone won the prize for top film at the Canadian Screen Awards.Courtesy of TIFF

Antigone, a Montreal-set, immigration-centric update on Sophocles that was Canada’s official submission for the 2020 Academy Awards’ Best International Film category, triumphed at the Canadian Screen Awards Thursday night, winning best picture.

After scrapping plans to hold a live televised awards gala at the end of March owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television decided to unveil its 144 category CSA winners in a virtual manner, with digital-media and television creators being honoured this past Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and the cinematic arts on Thursday. (All winners were announced over the Canadian Academy’s social-media channels and website.)

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Writer-director Sophie Deraspe’s French-language drama, which premiered at last September’s Toronto International Film Festival, won four other CSAs, including best editing, best lead actress (Nahéma Ricci), best supporting actress (Nour Belkhiria) and best adapted screenplay.

In a reversal of trends from the 2019 CSAs – where all five best-picture nominees were French-language productions – Antigone was the only Québécois movie up for the CSAs’ top film award this year, with the other contenders being the gonzo political comedy The Twentieth Century, the intense character study Anne at 13,000 ft., the tick-tock drama White Lie and the one-take drama The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open.

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open won three Canadian Screen Awards.Experimental Forest Films

That latter film, focusing on the relationship between two women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on opposite ends of the socio-economic spectrum, won three CSAs, including best director (shared by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn), best original screenplay and best cinematography. (The acclaimed production earlier this year won the $100,000 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, awarded by the Toronto Film Critics Association.)

Other films that walked away Thursday (virtually, that is) with multiple CSAs include François Girard’s violin-virtuoso drama The Song of Names (five CSAs, including best original score, best overall sound, best makeup, best sound editing, and best original song for Howard Shore’s title theme) and Matthew Rankin’s The Twentieth Century (three CSAs, including best art direction, best hair and best costume design).

Meanwhile, first-time director Heather Young won the CSAs’ John Dunning Best First Feature Film Award for her microbudget drama Murmur, which was one of the first films to come out of Telefilm’s revamped Talent to Watch program.

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