Paul Gross was a no-show, but his First World War epic movie, Passchendaele , showed up big time at the 29th annual Genie Awards, winning six statues including best picture.
The Canadian actor was working in Los Angeles, and perhaps that was a good thing as the only category in which Passchendaele was nominated and failed to win was best performance by an actor in a lead role. That went to Inuit actor Natar Ungalaaq, who won for The Necessities of Life .
For the first time ever the Genies were held in the nation's capital, provoking a conversation - and not always a positive one - about the state of art and culture in this country.
The venue, the Canada Aviation Museum, sits not far from Parliament Hill, where the Harper government is not considered a friend of actors and Canadian film.
And the host for the evening was comedian Dave Foley, who has lived in Los Angeles for the past 15 years.
Indeed, Mr. Foley, who had to watch all the nominated films on DVD in his hotel room when he came up to Canada because they weren't available in Los Angeles, joked that being surrounded by a bunch of "flightless airplanes" is "sort of what it feels like to be in Canadian show business."
Some of the actors and presenters criticized the government for not supporting the arts, especially the CBC.
"Oh glorious leader, please save the CBC," said Wendy Crewson, a well-known Canadian actor, as she took the stage to present the award for best actress. She mischievously announced the after-party was at 24 Sussex Dr., where she would be standing on a burned-out car with a megaphone.
In an earlier interview on the red carpet, Ms. Crewson said that the CBC is "going to go down the tubes" unless it is given proper funding.
She criticized the government's decision to deny the broadcaster's request for bridge financing.
"We need the CBC strong. It is the cornerstone of our creative infrastructure and we must make sure that we save the CBC."
And Sarah Polley, actor and writer, also expressed concerns: "Much of what I learned about being Canadian was from the CBC," said Ms. Polley, who presented the award for Achievement in Direction.
"Clearly a strong message was sent over the last few months to the Conservatives … that their mockery of the Canadian arts wasn't necessarily serving them well with voters," said Ms. Polley. "I think they've certainly changed the way they are talking about the arts, but their actions in terms of the CBC are not encouraging."
No Conservative politicians were spotted in the crowd. Heritage Minister James Moore was invited but did not attend. A spokeswoman told The Globe and Mail he was attending events in his riding.
"Anyone who claims the CBC is being sorely neglected has clearly not looked at the budgets since 2006," Mr. Moore said through the spokeswoman. "Our government has only increased the CBC's budget - this year it will receive over a billion dollars in taxpayers' money."
Two Liberal MPs, Martha Hall Findlay and Pablo Rodriguez, were at the ceremony.
With the show being in Ottawa, there were the inevitable political jokes. Dave Foley made up some fake movie titles, including Freaky Fiscal Friday , where a teenager is magically transformed into a Liberal MP and runs up huge debt for the country through his outrageous spending.
Sarah Polley joked as she walked the red carpet that, "the idea was to bring the gala to them [the Conservatives]"
And talk about bringing it: Kristin Booth, one of the stars of the controversial film Young People Fucking ( YPF ), won for best performance in a supporting role.
In a red carpet interview before the show, Ms. Booth noted how apt it was to be in the "nation's capital, where all of the C-10 [stuff]went down because of our film."
She was referring to the Harper government omnibus bill that would have allowed the government to deny tax credits from productions determined to be "contrary to public policy." And YPF was at the centre of the controversy.
Ms. Booth joked in an interview before the show that if she won she would say the movie's title as many times as she possibly could. She chickened out, however, only saying the profanity once in her acceptance speech: "I am so fucking excited."
Callum Keith Rennie, who is well-known for his role as a record producer in Showtime's TV show Californication , won for supporting actor for his performance in the film Normal .
He said Canada gave him his career and he loves coming back to work in the country. He is filming a movie in Halifax now.
And there was a patriotic feel to the evening as two Canadian Forces Snowbird pilots helped present an award.
As well, in accepting his award for best picture, Passchendaele , producer Francis Damberger dedicated his win to the men and women who have served in the country's armed forces throughout the years.
He received a big round of applause.
Meanwhile, there was not a lot of glitz and glamour on the red carpet. Sarah Polley said she was wearing a "borrowed dress" so government MPs need not be intimidated by fancy displays at galas.
This was a reference to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's musings during the election that ordinary working people weren't interested in black-tie arts galas.
Her little blue halter dress, by the way, was from Fashion Crimes in Toronto.