Baftas And Genies: Other Countries Film Awards
If you assume that the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes are the only film awards that matter–or exist–it is time to purchase a passport or leave your zip code once in a while. Cinema is a completely international industry and art form with many foreign territories having their own prestigious prizes to praise the movies they love. The four following film awards are highly respected honors in France, Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom, respectively. Thanks to these, and many other foreign film awards, we can all proudly proclaim "Viva la Cinema!"
Palme d'Or - France
This is the highest honor awarded during the biggest global film festival, the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes France. The Palme d'Or is not named after the palms they use to clap during standing ovations. It is a symbol that pays homage to the tree featured on the CIty of Cannes' coat of arms. Not only do the winners of this prestigious prize become magnets for the thousands of pushy paparazzi camera flashers that descend upon the French Rivera every May, but this prize usually leads to the need for a bigger trophy case afterwards as it is known to be a precursor for awards to follow. Some past Palme d'Or winners include Martin Scorsese ("Taxi Driver", 1976), Francis Ford Coppola ("Apocalypse Now", 1979), Quentin Tarantino ("Pulp Fiction", 1994) and Clint Eastwood (a special lifetime achievement honor, 2009).
Genie Award - Canada
The country of Canada is overflowing with movie talent. Actors like Jim Carrey, Keanu Reeves and William Shatner, as well as "Avatar" creator James Cameron, are a few that come to mind. But unfortunately they had to pack their bags and head down to Hollywood, USA to have the huge careers that they eventually earned. In order to strengthen the Canadian film industry, and give local stars a reason to not have to cross over the border to shine, the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television established the Genie Awards in 1980. There is a Genie Award category for practically every achievement that the Academy Award offers, so those underappreciated makeup artists and costume designers are thankfully not overlooked.
Golden Lion - Italy
The great country of Italy rightfully refuses to be written out of the history of cinema. To further their agenda, they offer their own prestigious film award known as the Golden Lion during the annual Venice Film Festival. Like the Palme d'Or, every country in the world is eligible to compete for the Golden Lion. Since this Golden Lion first roared in 1934, very few American movies have taken home this high honor. It is clear that celebrity bias, nepotism, and "I'll give you this check and you give me the shiny Lion," type offers have no bearing on the final decisions here. One glance at the winners from the United States might give a better indication of the type of films that are favored by this award's committee. The winners are an eclectic mix of independent films and directors with creative control such as "Somewhere" by Sofia Coppola (2010) and "The Wrestler" by Darren Aronofsky (2008).
BAFTA Award - United Kingdom
The British Academy of Film and Television Art's BAFTA film award is recognized internationally as the United Kingdom's equivalent to the Oscar Award—just ask legendary local winners like Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins and Sean Connery. In order for a film to be eligible to win this career-changing honor, the movie needs to be longer than 60 minutes in duration and must have its initial release be to a British audience in a commercial movie theatre for no less than seven straight days. So unfortunately, that screening of your debut film last Sunday at Grandma's house after church does not count.