André Turpin's critically acclaimed offbeat comedy Un crabe dans la tête swept the fourth annual Jutra Awards last night, capturing seven statues, including best picture, best director, best cinematography and best script.
The movie, called Soft Shell Man in English, features David La Haye as a confused young romantic who can't say no to anyone and thus has difficulty establishing a stable relationship with a woman. It is the second feature film made by Turpin, who wrote, directed and was the cinematographer for Un crabe.
The film also picked up awards for best supporting actor (Emmanuel Bilodeau), best editing and best music (Guy Pelletier and Ramachandra Borcar.)
Pierre Falardeau's controversial historical epic 15 février 1839 was considered an odds-on favourite for the Quebec film awards, but Turpin's film upstaged it with its surprise sweep.
15 février, which depicts the plight of several imprisoned Quebec patriotes as they face off against their English-language oppressors, picked up four awards: best actor (Luc Picard), best supporting actress (Sylvie Drapeau), best art direction and best sound.
Falardeau drew attention to the film during its production, complaining that the lack of support from the national film-funding body Telefilm was due to his sovereigntist perspective on history. He also made headlines recently when he denounced the Canadian film awards, the Genies, stating that he hadn't even submitted his film for consideration in that competition.
Other Jutras handed out last night at Montreal's Théâtre St. Denis include:
The award for the film that best raised the profile for Quebec cinema internationally was shared by Denis Villeneuve's bizarre existential comedy-drama Maelstrom (which was shot by Turpin) and Léa Pool's lesbian-schoolgirl tragedy, Lost and Delirious.
Elise Guilbeault won best actress for La Femme qui boit, the tale of a middle-aged woman in crisis. She also won a Genie earlier this month for the role.
Stephanie Morgenstern's Remembrance, about espionage during the Second World War, won for best short.
Martine Chartrand's Ame noire (Black Soul), illustrating the defining moments of black history, won for best animated film.
Le Minot d'or, Isabelle Raynaud's film about six mentally disabled people who struggle to live in the general population after 30 years in government institutions, won for best documentary. In what is considered this year's most noteworthy shutout, the controversial Bad Girl -- a feature-length documentary about women and pornography, which was censored last year -- was not even nominated.
A Jutra-Hommage award for lifetime contribution to Quebec cinema went to feminist filmmaker Anne Claire Poirier.
The Billet d'or Desjardins, handed to Quebec's biggest box-office success, was taken home by the producers behind Les Boys III, the latest sequel in the astonishingly popular amateur hockey-team comedy series.
Though some criticized the Jutras as redundant when they were launched four years ago, the award ceremonies have played to soldout houses and respectable ratings when they air on television, as they did last night on TVA. Industry onlookers already consider them a promising tool for bolstering the profile of Quebec films.