TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - The Genies, Canada's film awards, on Monday turned into a shootout between a movie about Russian mobsters in London and one that chronicles the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
David Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises," a portrait of a ruthless killer tied to an organized crime family, and Roger Spottiswoode's "Shake Hands With the Devil," a biopic of former Canadian Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire and his ill-fated U.N. mission in Rwanda, each snagged 12 nominations to lead the field.
Cronenberg and Spottiswoode will see their dramas compete in the best film and director competitions, as well as in a host of craft categories.
"Devil" lead Roy Dupuis will go up against Viggo Mortensen of "Promises" for best actor.
In the best actress competition, Julie Christie continues her awards-season success with a Genie nomination for "Away From Her," in which she plays a woman with Alzheimer's disease.
"Away From Her" earned seven Genie noms, including one for best film and a director nomination for Sarah Polley.
Contending with Christie for best actress will be two indie darlings: Ellen Page, for Bruce McDonald's "The Tracey Fragments," and Molly Parker, for "Who Loves the Sun," directed by her husband, Matt Bissonnette.
Other multiple nominees in the Genie competition include Stephane Lafleur's "Continental, un film sans fusil" (Continental, A Film Without Guns), which earned five noms, and Denys Arcand's "L'Age des tenebres" (Days of Darkness), with four.
Both Quebec-made movies will compete in the best film category.
Another Quebec movie likely to figure in the Genie competition is Patrick Huard's "Les 3 petits cochons" (The 3 Little Pigs), which earned Claude Legault a best actor nom and Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge a supporting actor berth.
In contrast with recent years, English-language Canadian films will grab the limelight at this year's Genies.
"We do like to see the pendulum swinging back, with greater profile going to English Canadian films, while recognizing a number of strong French films," Sara Morton, CEO of Genies organizer the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, said Monday.
The 2008 Genies will be handed out March 3 in Toronto and will air nationwide on the E! network.