Miss Pettigrew, Miss Polley & Bill C-10

Miss Pettigrew, Miss Polley & Bill C-10 featured image

by Marc Glassman.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Bharat Nalluri, dir; David Magee and Simon Beaufoy, script based on the novel by Winifred Watson; Paul Englishby, music. Starring: Frances McDormand (Miss Pettigrew), Amy Adams (Delysia Lafosse), Lee Pace (Michael), Ciaran Hinds (Joe), Shirley Henderson (Edythe Dubarry), Tom Payne (Phil Goldman), Mark Strong (Nick)

Genies 2008.

Away from Her 6 awards for: Motion Picture; Director (Sarah Polley); Adapted screenplay (Sarah Polley); Actor (Gordon Pinsent); Actress (Julie Christie); Supporting actress (Kristen Thomson)

Eastern Promises 7 awards for: Supporting actor (Armin Mueller-Stahl); Original script (Steven Knight); Cinematography (Peter Suschitzky); Editor (Ronald Sanders); Music (Howard Shore); Overall sound; Sound editing.

Best documentary: Radiant City; Best animation: Madame Tutli-Putli

Bill C-10. Proposed amendment to the Federal Income Tax Act would allow the federal government to withdraw financial support from a film and TV production “contrary to public policy.” Completed productions could be forced to pay back investments already made by Telefilm Canada and the Canadian Television Fund. CAVCO certification, which authorizes tax credits, would be denied.

The players: Heritage Minister Josee Verner would enforce the act
Charles McVety, president Canada Family Action Coalition claims credit for the amendment
David Angus, Conservative heads Senate banking committee
Senator Jerry Grafstein, Liberal and co-founder of CITY and CHUM opposes the bill
Prime Minister Stephen Harper reportedly “fumed” after finding out that Young People Fucking, a high-profile TIFF film, had public financing
David Cronenberg, Sandra Oh, Sarah Polley (all at the Genies) oppose the bill
Brian Anthony (DGC), Maureen Parker (WGC), Stephen Waddell (ACTRA) are working to stop the bill or at least reduce its power

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

What would happen if a quintessential English governess were assigned to take care of a striving—and slightly phony—American actress instead of the normal brood of squabbling kids? Imagine the pandemonium when this female bastion of British imperial values found herself sorting out the Yankee beauty’s complicated love life and potential job prospects—all in a day!

That’s the plot of Miss Pettigrew in an appropriately shaped nutshell. As played out by Amy Adams in the role of Delysia Lacosse, American lovely, and Frances McDormand as the titular Miss Pettigrew, the film sails along on charm, some wit, lots of Swing-era music and a fairly relentless sense of pace.

Set in 1938, the story makes much of history: the Depression is evoked through Miss Pettigrew, who is motivated, in part, to help Delysia because she fears unemployment while fears of an impending World War are given precedence when the film reaches its climax during an air raid drill.

In the main, though, this film cunningly reminds one of the effervescent plays of Noel Coward, the silly upper crust novels of P.G. Wodehouse and the frenetic pace and sheer romanticism of Hollywood screwball comedies like Bringing up Baby and The Awful Truth. The major romantic plot revolves around Delysia having to choose between Michael, the broke pianist who loves her; Nick, the cabaret owner who is trying to own her: and Phil, a theatrical promoter, who might make her a star. Anyone care to guess who Delysia falls for in the end?

The Genies

The Canadian film awards were a two-trick pony this year. Kudos to Sarah Polley and David Cronenberg but weren’t any other films made in 2007?

It was nice to see Polley win so many awards for her adaptation of an Alice Munro short story. Away from Her certainly deserved prizes, particularly for the majestic performance of Gordon Pinsent as the husband trying desperately to hold on to his Alzheimer stricken wife.

Eastern Promises garnered seven awards but couldn’t beat Away from Her in the main categories of Best Film, Actor, Actress or Director. Even Polley was astonished that she won for best director but, then, she’s always been a generous, feet-on-the-ground type of person.

In the end, the Genie ceremony emerged as a winner itself, with two high profile films sweeping while host Sandra Oh and other luminaries made news by lambasting the federal government for its ominously censorial Bill C-10.

Bill C-10

Imagine if you’d been working for years, trying to save enough money to start a business. Finally, you secure a loan from the feds, which can be taken to a bank for interim financing. Huzzah! But there’s one problem. Turns out that your financing could fall apart retroactively, if you annoy anyone in federal politics.

Welcome to the Kafkaesque Bill C-10, which apparently innocuously insists that the Heritage Minister can remove already agreed-upon financing for a film or TV show–after it’s been completed–if it’s “contrary to public policy.”

So, you’re David Cronenberg and you decide to stage a brutal murder scene in a sauna, with naked men grappling with knives. Good public policy? Who knows? Would you like to convince a banker that your Telefilm financing won’t fall through when the Heritage Minister looks at the final product? Just asking…

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